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Academy Research Fellow Heikki Tuononen’s team and Canadian scientists first to isolate cyanoformate

(8 Apr 2014)

The scientific world is one step closer to understanding how nature uses carbon capture to tame poisons, thanks to a recent discovery of cyanoformate by researchers at Saint Mary’s University, Canada, and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. This simple ion — which is formed when cyanide bonds to carbon dioxide — is a by-product of the fruit-ripening process that has evaded detection for decades.

Chemists have long understood the roles of cyanide (CN-) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in fruit ripening, but have always observed them independently. This is the first time scientists have isolated the elusive cyanoformate anion (NCCO2-) and characterised its structure using crystallography and computational chemistry. The results of the two-year study led by Dr Jason Clyburne, Saint Mary’s University, and Academy Research Fellow, Dr Heikki M. Tuononen, University of Jyväskylä, were released today in Science.

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