Period 3 Element - Biological Role

Biological Role

Sodium is an essential element for all animals and some plants. In animals, sodium ions are used against potassium ions to build up charges on cell membranes, allowing transmission of nerve impulses when the charge is dissipated; it is therefore classified as a dietary inorganic macromineral.

Magnesium is the eleventh most abundant element by mass in the human body; its ions are essential to all living cells, where they play a major role in manipulating important biological polyphosphate compounds like ATP, DNA, and RNA. Hundreds of enzymes thus require magnesium ions to function. Magnesium is also the metallic ion at the center of chlorophyll, and is thus a common additive to fertilizers. Magnesium compounds are used medicinally as common laxatives, antacids (e.g., milk of magnesia), and in a number of situations where stabilization of abnormal nerve excitation and blood vessel spasm is required (e.g., to treat eclampsia).

Despite its prevalence in the environment, aluminium salts are not known to be used by any form of life. In keeping with its pervasiveness, it is well tolerated by plants and animals. Because of their prevalence, potential beneficial (or otherwise) biological roles of aluminium compounds are of continuing interest.

Silicon is an essential element in biology, although only tiny traces of it appear to be required by animals, however various sea sponges need silicon in order to have structure. It is much more important to the metabolism of plants, particularly many grasses, and silicic acid (a type of silica) forms the basis of the striking array of protective shells of the microscopic diatoms.

Phosphorus is essential for life. As phosphate, it is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and also the phospholipids that form all cell membranes. Demonstrating the link between phosphorus and life, elemental phosphorus was historically first isolated from human urine, and bone ash was an important early phosphate source. Phosphate minerals are fossils. Low phosphate levels are an important limit to growth in some aquatic systems. Today, the most important commercial use of phosphorus-based chemicals is the production of fertilizers, to replace the phosphorus that plants remove from the soil.

Sulfur is an essential element for all life, and is widely used in biochemical processes. In metabolic reactions, sulfur compounds serve as both fuels and respiratory (oxygen-replacing) materials for simple organisms. Sulfur in organic form is present in the vitamins biotin and thiamine, the latter being named for the Greek word for sulfur. Sulfur is an important part of many enzymes and in antioxidant molecules like glutathione and thioredoxin. Organically bonded sulfur is a component of all proteins, as the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Disulfide bonds are largely responsible for the mechanical strength and insolubility of the protein keratin, found in outer skin, hair, and feathers, and the element contributes to their pungent odor when burned.

Elemental chlorine is extremely dangerous and poisonous for all lifeforms, and is used as a pulmonary agent in chemical warfare; however, chlorine is necessary to most forms of life, including humans, in form of chloride ions.

Argon has no biological role. Like any gas besides oxygen, argon is an asphyxiant.

Read more about this topic:  Period 3 Element

Other articles related to "biological role, biological, role":

Tungsten Compounds - Characteristics - Biological Role
... Tungsten has been studied as a biological copper metabolic antagonist, in a role similar to the action of molybdenum ... that tetrathiotungstates may be used as biological copper chelation chemicals, similar to the tetrathiomolybdates ...
Cromium - Biological Role
... Chromium has no verified biological role and has been classified by some as not essential for mammals ... Although no biological role for chromium has ever been demonstrated, dietary supplements for chromium include chromium(III) picolinate, chromium(III) polynicotinate, and ... dietary supplements is controversial, owing to the absence of any verified biological role, the expense of these supplements, and the complex effects of their use ...

Famous quotes containing the words role and/or biological:

    The Declaration [of Independence] was not a protest against government, but against the excess of government. It prescribed the proper role of government, to secure the rights of individuals and to effect their safety and happiness. In modern society, no individual can do this alone. So government is not a necessary evil but a necessary good.
    Gerald R. Ford (b. 1913)

    Although there is no universal agreement as to a definition of life, its biological manifestations are generally considered to be organization, metabolism, growth, irritability, adaptation, and reproduction.
    The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition, the first sentence of the article on “life” (based on wording in the First Edition, 1935)