The effect of temperature on the preservation of purine and pyrimidine bases

A. Minton*, E. Rosenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aerobic solid phase decomposition of the five major naturally-occurring purine and pyrimidine bases of the nucleic acids was studied spectrophotometrically. Throughout the temperature range 115-264°C, the decompositions follow first-order kinetics and obey the Arrhenius relationship except in the case of guanine where a distinct change in slope was noted at about 200°C. The energies of activation and temperature ranges studied are as follows: cytosine, 36.2 kcal/mole (121-246°C); thymine, 23.4 kcal/mole (115-221°C); uracil, 32.3 kcal/mole (115-196°C); adenine, 36·4 kcal/mole (115-221°C); guanine, 23·4 kcal/mole (115-196°C); 11.6 kcal/mole (196-264°C). Extrapolations suggest that under the conditions studied adenine and cytosine would have half-lives of approximately 106 years at 25°, guanine and uracil would have half-lives of between 104 and 105 years, while thymine would have a half-life of less than 103 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1953-1959
Number of pages7
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1964
Externally publishedYes


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