, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 730-750

Microbial heavy-metal resistance

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Abstract

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.

Received: 25 November 1998 / Received revision: 18 February 1999 / Accepted: 20 February 1999