Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 271-276

First online:

Bacterial evolution and silicon

  • J.T. TrevorsAffiliated withLaboratory of Microbial Technology, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph

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This review examines the possible role of silicon in molecular evolution. It is possible silicon participated in early molecular evolution by providing a stable mineral surface or gel structure where the assembly and replication of primitive genetic information occurred. However, as molecular evolution proceeded, silicon was not required in the evolution of C-based organisms. Silicon can be accumulated by diatoms and other living organisms such as silicoflagellates, some xanthophytes, radiolarians and actinopods and plants such as grasses, ferns, horseradish, some trees and flowers, some sponges, insects and invertebrates and bacteria and fungi. Silicon also has a role in synthesis of DNA, DNA polymerase and thymidylate kinase activity in diatoms. It is not unreasonable to examine the role of silicon in early molecular evolution as it may have been part of a micro-environment in which assembly of genetic information occurred.

bacteria evolution molecular silicon