Author(s): Slawson RM, Van Dyke MI, Lee H, Trevors JT
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Abstract Germanium is an inert metal with no known biological function in prokaryotic or eukaryotic organisms. Its toxicity is low compared to that of silver. Germanium is accumulated in certain bacterial strains by either energy-independent passive binding or an energy-dependent mechanism. Little is known about the molecular aspects of silver resistance, toxicity, and accumulation in bacterial strains. This is surprising because silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent in the medical field for centuries. It is likely that silver ions are excluded (resulting in decreased silver accumulation) from certain bacterial strains or immobilized intracellularly to prevent toxic effects from being exerted. These mechanisms of silver resistance have not been fully elucidated. This review examines the toxicity and accumulation of germanium and silver in selected microbial species. In addition, resistance mechanisms to these biologically nonessential metals is discussed, with more emphasis placed on silver-resistant bacteria due to the knowledge available.
This article was published in Plasmid
and referenced in Journal of Bioanalysis & Biomedicine