Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using Darwin in helping to define the biological essentiality of silicon and aluminium

Date:
November 17, 2009
Source:
Keele University
Summary:
In this year, 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ a UK scientist has used Darwin’s seminal work on Natural Selection in helping to define the biological essentiality of the second (silicon) and third (aluminium) most abundant elements of the Earth’s crust.

In this year, 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, a UK scientist has used Darwin's seminal work on Natural Selection in helping to define the biological essentiality of the second (silicon) and third (aluminium) most abundant elements of the Earth's crust.

Related Articles


The lack of any clear or significant biological essentiality for both of these elements is a mystery as all other abundant elements of the Earth's crust are known to be biologically essential.

Dr Chris Exley, Reader in Bioinorganic Chemistry at Keele University and a world authority on the ways in which aluminium impacts upon life on Earth, says natural selection is often interpreted as 'survival of the fittest' but what is often not appreciated is that the selection processes themselves are niche driven, which means that those characteristics which convey fitness in one environment may not convey fitness in another, perhaps adjacent, environment or niche. This is both the strength and the beauty of natural selection and it can be applied to cellular biochemistry as it is applied to speciation of organisms.

Aluminium is biologically reactive, while silicon is biologically inert. Natural selection informs us that the non-essentiality of aluminium is explained by its non-participation in biochemical evolution due to a complete lack of its biologically reactive forms.

On the other hand the biologically available form of silicon (silicic acid) has been extremely abundant throughout biochemical evolution and its biological essentiality has been dictated by its extremely limited biological reactivity.

It is no coincidence that one of the very few reactions of silicic acid is that with aluminium and that this reaction protects against the toxicity of aluminium.

An essential role of silicon throughout biochemical evolution has been to keep aluminium out of life! However, the activities of humans in learning how to extract aluminium from its ores and using it in myriad ways in what is now the Aluminium Age means that Earth's inherent protection against the toxicity of aluminium is being compromised and that biologically reactive aluminium is now an active participant in biochemical (and hence human) evolution.

Some of the early results of the arrival of biochemically reactive aluminium have been worryingly obvious, including the death of fish and trees in geographical regions impacted by acid deposition, whereas others, and perhaps those which in particular are linked with the human condition, might yet be too subtle to be directly attributable to the participation of biologically-reactive aluminium in the natural selection of the elements of biological essentiality.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Keele University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Exley C. Darwin, natural selection and the biological essentiality of aluminium and silicon. Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2009; DOI: 10.1016/j.tibs.2009.07.006

Cite This Page:

Keele University. "Using Darwin in helping to define the biological essentiality of silicon and aluminium." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116173632.htm>.
Keele University. (2009, November 17). Using Darwin in helping to define the biological essentiality of silicon and aluminium. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116173632.htm
Keele University. "Using Darwin in helping to define the biological essentiality of silicon and aluminium." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091116173632.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

AFP (Nov. 22, 2014) Faces in an area of mosaics is the latest find by archaeologists at a recently discovered tomb dating back to fourth century BC and the time of Alexander the Great in Greece. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) The United States has returns over 500 vases, bowls, axes, and other ancient artifacts mostly from the Ban Chiang archaeological site which were illegally looted from Thailand decades ago. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins