Mechanisms of metal uptake

  • Ken Simkiss


Roughly 70 years ago Henderson (1927) wrote a book entitled The Fitness of the Environment in which he identified the physical and chemical properties of the environment that facilitated the evolution of life. One of the aspects that he focused on was the unique properties of water that enabled life to survive in this medium. These included its specific heat, latent heats of melting and evaporation, thermal conductivity, surface tension, expansion before freezing, and solvent and ionization properties. Fifty years afterwards, Tanford (1978) described the hydrophobic effect and its influence on the organization of living matter. The essence of his argument was that this is a unique organizing force based on repulsion by the solvent. As such it is responsible for the assembly of most of the cellular and subcellular membrane compartments that form the basis of cellular organization. Clearly water has not been a passive influence in the evolution of life. Despite these great insights and the fact that cells consist of 75–85% water, its role in biology remains controversial and poorly understood. Discussions range from modelling the state of water around the polyelectrolytes in the cell to its role in numerous reactions. As an example of such controversies we can consider osmosis.


Lipid Bilayer Metal Uptake Mytilus Edulis Macoma Balthica Menkes Disease 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

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  • Ken Simkiss

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