Date of Award

Summer 7-2005

Document Type


Degree Name

Honors College



Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce W. O'Rourke

Third Advisor

Dr. Beverly Wade


The Murchison meteorite is the best-characterized carbonaceous meteorite with respect to organic chemistry and is generally used as references for organic compounds in extraterrestrial material. Among the classes of organic compounds found in the meteorite are amino acids, carboxylic acids, hydroxy acids, purines, and pyrimidines. Absent among today's critically important biological compounds reported in carbonaceous meteorites are keto acids, i.e., pyruvic acid, acetoacetic acid, and higher homologs. These compounds are key intermediates in such critical processes as glycolysis and the citric acid cycle. In this study several individual meteoritic keto acids were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). All compounds were identified as their isopropyl ester (ISP) derivatives. In general, the compounds follow the abiotic synthesis pattern of other known meteorite classes of organic compounds: a general decrease in abundance with increasing carbon number within a class of compounds and many, if not all, possible isomers present at a given carbon number. The vast majority of the compounds were positively identified by comparison of their mass spectra to commercially available standards or synthesized standards.

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Chemistry Commons