The Importance of Ion Exchange Processes in Living Systems

  • Robert J. P. Williams


In biology there is a great variety of charged surfaces formed from polysaccharides, lipids, proteins and polynucleic acids. For the most part they are negatively charged and therefore act as cation exchangers. The exact chemical anionic groups, their concentrations and their whereabouts in the organism are important since the concentration levels of free cations is very variable from one part of the system to another. Anion binding is to amino-groups of proteins. In the simplest biological systems, direct comparisons can be made with man-made ion-exchangers. However, ion-exchange is also used in biology to make current carrying and trigger devices.


Barium Sulphate Biological Surface Simple Biological System Density Anion Charge High Density Cation Charge 
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    Williams, R.J.P. On First Looking into Nature’s Chemistry, Chem. Soc. (London) Revs. 1980, 9, 281–325.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publisher Ltd 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert J. P. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Inorganic Chemistry LaboratoryUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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