▪ Abstract 

The history of the theory and experimental evidence that the natural catalytic and reactive qualities of transition metal sulfides are linked to primitive metabolism is reviewed. In the late 1980s, a hypothesis arose that proposed that transition metal sulfides (in particular pyrrhotite and pyrite) might play a significant role promoting abiotic organic chemistry. As an outgrowth of this hypothesis, elaborate theories were presented, including proposals for earliest life being structurally distinct from extant prokaryotic life. During the 1990s and into the twenty-first century, experimental evidence has emerged that supports certain aspects of these theories; in other cases, the experiments reveal chemistry that diverges significantly from that which was proposed theoretically. In either case, however, there is clear evidence that transition metal sulfide minerals exhibit catalytic qualities for the promotion of reactions that have obvious metabolic utility and, therefore, could have provided the primitive Earth with valuable biochemical intermediates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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