, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 107-112

First online:

Systems biology of evolution: the involvement of metal ions

  • Robert J. P. WilliamsAffiliated withInorganic Chemistry Laboratory, University of Oxford Email author 

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This article outlines a novel way of looking at the relevance of metal ions in organisms to the whole of life as part of an ecosystem bringing together the environment and cellular life. It does so by examining the evolution of the environment due to the “waste”, mainly oxygen, from cell metabolism which back reacts with the cells themselves. The oxygen generates a progressive change in the metal ions in the environment. The resultant change is buffered by ferrous iron and sulfide and is therefore slow so that there is a gradual adaptation of life to utilisation of elements in a time sequence. In order to appreciate this, systems (biological) evolution, it is necessary to describe the very nature of a thermodynamic flow system of which life is an example.


Evolution: metal ions in Ecosystems Metal ion evolution Prokaryote metals Eukaryote metals Organisation and order