The Chemical Evolution of Phosphorus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Astrobiology, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Chemical Evolution of Phosphorus

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Astrobiology, 1st Edition

By Enrique Macia-Barber

Apple Academic Press

355 pages | 21 Color Illus. | 65 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781771888042
pub: 2019-10-10
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The Chemical Evolution of Phosphorus: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Astrobiology is an exploration of “the phosphorus enigma.” The volume attempts to answer the questions How did phosphorus atoms, which are produced inside the inner cores of a handful of huge stars, become concentrated in relatively high proportions in the organisms composing Earth’s biosphere? And how did these phosphate derivatives manage to be included in such a great variety of organic molecules playing essential biochemical roles in all known life forms?

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the topic, the volume is arranged in three main sections. The first section introduces the fundamental concepts and notions of physics, chemistry, and biology necessary for the proper understanding of the topics discussed within an astronomical framework. It covers the basic features of astrophysics, cosmochemistry, and astrobiology disciplines and provides a brief summary of the main physical and chemical properties of phosphorus compounds of interest.


“This book beautifully traces the stellar origin of the element phosphorous, its chemical properties, and the observations of phosphorous-based molecules and minerals in the interstellar medium and in the solar system. [The author] then connects the astronomical studies with the role of phosphorous played in living organisms, presenting the biochemistry of biomolecules that incorporate phosphorous, and the roles that these molecules play in the origin of life on Earth. This book presents a comprehensive summary of our current understanding of the astrochemical and astrobiological significance of phosphorous. It is invaluable for researchers and students who are interested in the question of origin of life and the search for extraterrestrial life. ”

—From the Foreword by Sun Kwok, President, International Astronomical Union Commission on Astrobiology (2015–2018), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Table of Contents

1. The Phosphorus Enigma: An Overview 2. The Unfolding Universe 3. Cosmic Distribution of the Main Biogenic Elements 4. Physical and Chemical Properties of Phosphorus Compounds 5. The Nucleosynthesis of Phosphorus 6. From Stellar Atmospheres to the Interstellar Medium and Back Again 7. Phosphorus Compounds in Planetary Systems 8. Prebiotic Chemical Evolution and the Phosphate Problem 9. Phosphorus Technology: Man Made Compounds 10. Outlook and Perspectives

About the Author

Enrique Maciá-Barber is currently a professor of condensed matter physics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Astronomy
SCIENCE / Astrophysics & Space Science
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biochemistry
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Biology / Molecular Biology