I'm thinking about designing an alien race. The race is carbon-based and evolved on a world with an average surface temperature between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius. Now, on Earth, almost all lifeforms use some form of nucleoside triphosphate, such as ATP or GTP, for energy exchange. What are possible alternative energy carriers besides nucleoside triphosphates? Bonus points if the energy carrier isn't phosphate-based, although that isn't a requirement.

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    $\begingroup$ This is like the easiest question ever if you know anything about chemistry. There is an almost infinite number of possibilities here which suggests that you lack some basic knowledge. That's fine, but why do you want to write biochemical fiction if you have absolutely zero knowledge about the topic? Stick to what you know. I would recommend just making up a name and be done with it. The exact mechanisms behind it don't matter as much - what else would you so with any other information than just taking the name of some molecule and be done with it? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Dec 21 '19 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ Raditz_35 is blunt but correct. But I think enthusiasm and lack of basic knowledge is a good combination for the WB Stack! There is a sad lack of speculative biochemistry. Here is one I liked: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/135530/… $\endgroup$ – Willk Dec 21 '19 at 18:40

A great many high energy molecules exist, countless millions in fact. So part of your question is fairly easy to answer starting with the more obvious, how about using a different nucleoside base to attach a phosphate group such as these:

If you don’t like phosphates how about adenosine nitrate?

If you don’t like nucleosides why not go the whole hog and abandon terrestrial biology entirely? No doubt with suitably ingenious alien biochemistry it would be possible to utilize Tetrazine or a million other high energy molecules.

The scope of chemistry is vast beyond imagination. Determining all of the relevant chemical reactions required to support your alternative high energy molecule is another matter.

It would basically mean creating an alternative to this map of reactions (and this is just a fragment)

  • $\begingroup$ This is a good answer. There are some really fun ones, but there are a lot of quality high-energy molecules that could work - ATP just got lucky, so to speak. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Dec 21 '19 at 23:26
  • $\begingroup$ I once made a planet using perchlorates in place of phosphates. Given they couldnzt be strung together, but I think one was more than enough to cause chemical reactions. $\endgroup$ – Aezyc Dec 24 '19 at 4:33

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