Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 730–750

Microbial heavy-metal resistance

  • D. H. Nies

DOI: 10.1007/s002530051457

Cite this article as:
Nies, D. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol (1999) 51: 730. doi:10.1007/s002530051457


We are just beginning to understand the metabolism of heavy metals and to use their metabolic functions in biotechnology, although heavy metals comprise the major part of the elements in the periodic table. Because they can form complex compounds, some heavy metal ions are essential trace elements, but, essential or not, most heavy metals are toxic at higher concentrations. This review describes the workings of known metal-resistance systems in microorganisms. After an account of the basic principles of homoeostasis for all heavy-metal ions, the transport of the 17 most important (heavy metal) elements is compared.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. H. Nies
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Mikrobiologie, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Kurt-Mothes-Str. 3, 06099 Halle, Germany e-mail: Tel.: +49-345-5526352 Fax: +49-345-5527010DE