Metal oxidoreduction by microbial cells

J Ind Microbiol. 1995 Feb;14(2):169-77. doi: 10.1007/BF01569900.


For many organisms, some heavy metals in external media are essential at low concentrations but are toxic at high concentrations. Strongly toxic heavy metals are toxic even at low concentrations. Recently, it was proven that changes of valencies of Fe, Cu and Mn were necessary for these metals to be utilized by organisms, especially microorganism. The valencies of Hg and Cr are changed by reducing systems of cells in the process of detoxifying them. Thus, the processes of oxidoreduction of these metals are important for biological systems of metal-autoregulation and metal-mediated regulation. Metal ion-specific reducing enzyme systems function in the cell surface layer of microorganisms. These enzymes require NADH or NADPH as an electron donor and FMN or FAD as an electron carrier component. Electron transport may be operated by transplamsa-membrane redox systems. Metal ion reductases are also found in the cytoplasm. The affinities of metal ions to ligand residues change with the valence of the metal elements and mutual interactions of various metal ions are important for regulation of oxidoreduction states. Microorganisms can utilize essential metal elements and detoxify excess metals by respective reducing enzyme systems and by regulating movement of heavy metal ions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / enzymology
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Copper / metabolism
  • Fungi / enzymology
  • Fungi / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Mercury / metabolism
  • Metals / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Metals
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Mercury