The Biological Chemistry of the Elements: The Inorganic Chemistry of Life
J. J. R. Frausto da Silva
The study of the chemistry of living processes has traditionally centred on the behaviour of organic compounds in water - together they account for 99 percent of the matter in living systems. However, about 20 "inorganic" elements are also regarded essential for life, and they are found in similar amounts in most living systems. The authors' objective in this book is to examine and exlain the importance of these elements by "bringing inorganic chemistry to life". The authors commence with a survey of the chemical and physical factors controlling the elements of life; the essential functions of individual inorganic elements are then described. A final section consolidates a major theme of the book - the co-operative interaction of elements in living systems. Chapters here examine the relationships between chemical activity and morphology and the effect that changes in the availability of elements have on life - not only in providing evolutionary pressures but also in the context of the use of medicines and the spread of pollutants.