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Trace metals are metallic elements on the periodic table that are found in low concentrations in both aqueous environments (seawater, freshwater, mine waters) and geologic samples (minerals, rocks, and mine tailings). In aqueous environments, trace metals include any metal element present at concentrations between 10−15 mol/L (1 fM) and 10−5 mol/L (10 μM). In geological samples, trace metals are present in abundances of <0.1% by weight and typically quantified in either ppm (mg/kg) or ppb (μg/kg). With regard to trace metals in astrobiology and geobiology, there is an increased focus on transition metals in columns 3–12 of the periodic table.
Trace metals are ubiquitous components of aqueous environments, geological samples, and biological processes. In biological systems, trace metals play critical roles as reaction centers and structural components in metalloenzymes or can even be used as terminal electron acceptors in redox-driven...
KeywordsMetalloenzymes Biosignatures Oxygenation Redox reactions Trace metals
References and Further Reading
- Frausto da Silva JJR, Williams RJ (2001) The biological chemistry of the elements: the inorganic chemistry of life, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Vraspir JM, Butler A (2009) Chemistry of marine ligands and siderophores. Annu Rev Mar Sci 1:43–63. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.marine.010908.163712ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar