Prebiotic polymerization: Oxidative polymerization of 2,3-dimercapto-l-propanol on the surface of iron(III) hydroxide oxide
The oxidation of 2,3-dimercapto-l-propanol by ferric ions on the surface of iron(III) hydroxide oxide (Fe(OH)O) yielded polydisulfide oligomers. This polymerization occurred readily at low dithiol concentration under mild aqueous conditions. Polydisulfide polymers up to the 15-mer were synthesized from 1 mM dithiol in 5 ml water reacted with iron(III) hydroxide oxide (20 mg, 160 µ mole Fe) for 3 days under anaerobic conditions at 40 °C and pH 4. About 91% of the dithiol was converted to short soluble oligomers and 9% to insoluble larger oligomers that were isolated with the Fe (OH)O phase. Reactions carried out at the same ratio of dithiol to Fe(OH)O but at higher dithiol concentrations gave higher yields of the larger insoluble oligomers. The relationship of these results to prebiotic polymer synthesis is discussed.