How Do Chemical Elements Shape Biology Biochemistry

About one third of all the biochemical transformations in any organism, including those of nucleic acids, aromatic compounds and nitrogen speciation forms, are brought about by metalloenzymes and thus are metal-complex-catalyzed in a certain way. Hence, the ability of anabolic metabolism is controlled by metal availability, as is transfer of elements, proper nutrition, etc. within trophic chains. Thus element flows - both bound to food and obtained from the "free" environment - can also shape ecosystems, often in a subtle way: the balance between ruminants, sheep and other hoofed animals such as deer, antelopes in open grassland or savanna (wildebeests!) may as well be controlled by the Mo/Cu ratios in soil (antagonistic toxicity to which hoofed animals are sensitive to very different extent) as by direct depletion of certain elements in grasses, leaves and other food. Among consumer organisms with different trace element demands - different in terms of both identity (stony corals need Sr while other planktivores do not, some fungi or animals do depend on administration of V or Co, respectively, while others, even closely related creatures, do not) and of amount - the abilities to settle in a certain area or ecosystems by exploiting some producer- or lower-level-consumer species living there already obviously are unlike, with chances to compensate for lacking materials from ambient water or by soil ingestion limited by either dilution of the elements or inability to mobilize them, that is, in any case, by limited or mediocre complex formation in (attempted) sequestration of the said elements (considering metal ions mainly for the moment). The elements may be constant in amount/concentration but will be differently retained or extracted, owing to, e.g., the competitive exclusion principle even though sequestration agents may be identical in rather different organisms, e.g., hydroxamates in fungi and soil bacteria.

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