Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins

2013 Edition
| Editors: Robert H. Kretsinger, Vladimir N. Uversky, Eugene A. Permyakov

Silicon, Biologically Active Compounds

  • Leonid Breydo
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1533-6_486



Silicon is extremely common in nature where it occurs as silicon dioxide and various silicates. The primary role of silicon-containing compounds in biological environment is a structural one with silicates incorporated into exoskeleton of marine organisms, cell walls of plants, and connective tissues of animals.


Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust accounting for 27.7% of it by weight. Silicon is the closest analogue of carbon in periodic table. However, it is more electropositive, resulting in stronger Si-O bonds and much weaker Si-Si and Si-H bonds compared to carbon. High stability of Si-O bond makes formation of silicon dioxide and silicates highly thermodynamically favorable. Silica and most silicates are poorly water soluble and highly chemically stable. Due to their high stability, silicon dioxide and silicates are the only silicon-containing...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular MedicineMorsani College of Medicine, University of South FloridaTampaUSA