Large Magnetic Field Influences Reactivity of Sugar Stereoisomers

Press Release From: Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2007


New Rochelle, October 29, 2007 – New research on enantiomers—mirror image chemical structures that have nearly identical physical and chemical properties and are difficult to separate—demonstrates how, in the presence of a strong magnetic field, enantiomers of the sugars ribose and glucose will interact selectively and differentially with water molecules that contain the 17O isotope. The report, entitled “TD-1H NMR Measurements Show Enantioselective Dissociation of Ribose and Glucose in the Presence of H217O,” is published in the October 2007 issue (Volume 7, Number 5) of Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The paper is available free online at

Romulus Ion Scorei and Vily Marius Cimpoiasu, from University of Craiova, Romania, together with Radu Popa, from Portland State University, Oregon, used Time Domain 1H NMR to observe changes in proton exchange between water and sugar enantiomers at varying concentrations of H217O at about 6,000 Gauss. The authors propose that the large magnetic field applied during NMR analysis generates polarity opposite in sign for stereoisomers, which results in biased stereochemical reactivity with H217O that involves the quadrupole of 17O. These findings provide an experimentally verifiable example of mass independent isotopic fractionation.

“Understanding the mechanism by which the (-)-enantiomers of glucose and ribose become more reactive during Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) measurements at increasing concentrations of H217O has important implications for stereochemistry and astrobiology research,” says Journal editor, Sherry L. Cady, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Geology at Portland State University. “Such work could contribute to new technologies for separating mixtures of chiral compounds.” Co-author Radu Popa notes that “future work to understand the basis for enantiomeric excess in nature should include investigations focused on chemical reactions at the surfaces of magnetic minerals (in vivo and in vitro) and changes in the regulation of metabolites that occur in magnetic bacteria and in other living cells when exposed to magnetic fields.”

Astrobiology is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published bimonthly in print and online. The Journal provides a forum for scientists seeking to advance our understanding of life’s origins, evolution, distribution, and destiny in the universe. A complete table of contents and a full text for this issue may be viewed online at

Astrobiology is the leading peer-reviewed journal in its field. To promote this developing field, the Journal has teamed up with The Astrobiology Web to highlight one outstanding paper per issue of Astrobiology. This paper is available free online at and to visitors of The Astrobiology Web at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215
Phone: (914) 740-2100, (800) M-LIEBERT, Fax: (914) 740-2101

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