The quintessence of metallomics: a harbinger of a different life science based on the periodic table of the bioelements

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of the field of metallomics. As a landmark in time, it is an occasion to reflect on the past, present, and future of this integrated field of biometal sciences. A fundamental bias is one reason for having metallomics as a scientific discipline. The focus of biochemistry on the six non-metal chemical elements, collectively known with the acronym SPONCH (sulphur, phosphorus, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen), glosses over the fact that the lower quantities of many other elements have qualities that made them instrumental in the evolution of life and pivotal in numerous life processes. The metallome, alongside the genome, proteome, lipidome, and glycome, should be regarded as a fifth pillar of elemental-vis-à-vis molecular-building blocks in biochemistry. Metallomics as 'global approaches to metals in the biosciences' considers the biological significance of most chemical elements in the periodic table, not only the ones essential for life, but also the non-essential ones that are present in living matter-some at higher concentrations than the essential ones. The non-essential elements are bioactive with either positive or negative effects. Integrating the significance of many more chemical elements into the life sciences requires a transformation in learning and teaching with a focus on elemental biology in addition to molecular biology. It should include the dynamic interactions between the biosphere and the geosphere and how the human footprint is changing the ecology globally and exposing us to many additional chemical elements that become new bioelements.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMetallomics : integrated biometal science
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2022


  • bioelements
  • metallomics
  • periodic table


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