Biological Response to Trace Metals and Their Biochemical Effects

  • V. Albergoni
  • E. Piccinni
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 6)


It is well known that many elements, including metal ions, have a biological significance and are essential for plant, animal and human life. Some of the metals are required in very small amounts and thus are generally referred to as “trace metals”. Until 20 years ago, few trace elements (such as Fe, I, Cu, Zn, Mn, Co, Cr, Se, F) were considered essential for animals. Recently, other elements, some regarded as environmental contaminants, were found to be beneficial in the diet of laboratory animals. Some of these are Ni, V, Si, and As. Very little is known concerning the specific biological functions of these newer trace and ultratrace elements. However, recent findings support the possibility that the interaction between one ultratrace element and another can be of nutritional significance. These results refer mainly to experiments (on mammals like rats or rabbits) which had been carried out to understand the dietary needs in humans. Data concerning the requirements for trace and ultratrace metals of unicellular organisms (protozoa and bacteria) grown on defined media are also available, but very little or even nothing is known about most animals.


Trace Metal Biological Response Essential Metal Euglena Gracilis Heavy Metal Tolerance 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Albergoni
    • 1
  • E. Piccinni
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Biologia AnimaleUniversità di PadovaItaly

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