Related topics: genes · protein · cells · amino acids · diabetes

A new way to control microbial metabolism

Microbes can be engineered to produce a variety of useful compounds, including plastics, biofuels, and pharmaceuticals. However, in many cases, these products compete with the metabolic pathways that the cells need to fuel ...

Fungus produces active agent in a medicinal herb

Tatarinow's aster is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a number of ailments; the plant contains an active ingredient known as astin—and it is this agent which cancer researchers are now investigating. However, ...

Something old, something new in the ocean's blue

Charles Darwin suspected something in the "clear blue water" of the ocean that was even smaller than the protozoa he could see under the microscope. "Today we know that every liter of ocean water is swarming with hundreds ...

Genetic typing of a bacterium with biotechnological potential

Pseudomonas putida is a bacterium occuring in soil, aquatic environments and plants. Although the virulence of Pseudomonas p.—the ability of the bacterium to infect its host and inflict a disease—is considered to be low, ...

Meteorite-loving microorganism

Chemolithotrophic microorganisms derive their energy from inorganic sources. Research into the physiological processes of these organisms—which are grown on meteorite—provides new insights into the potential of extraterrestrial ...

Biologists examine sperm quality on the basis of their metabolism

Every tenth couple worldwide is affected by infertility. The reasons for this are manifold, but mostly well researched. Nevertheless, about fifteen percent of cases remain unexplained. A team of biologists at TU Dresden has ...

The cause of chewy chicken meat

University of Delaware researchers have discovered that lipoprotein lipase, an enzyme crucial for fat metabolism, may be contributing to wooden breast syndrome in broiler chickens.

Slowing down: Is aging caused by decreased cellular metabolism?

Throughout history, humans have been obsessed with finding a way to prevent aging and prolong life. Although the mechanisms have long eluded us, modern science is revealing more and more about the aging process. Now, researchers ...

Metabolism

Metabolism is the set of chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life. These processes allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. Metabolism is usually divided into two categories. Catabolism breaks down organic matter, for example to harvest energy in cellular respiration. Anabolism, on the other hand, uses energy to construct components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids.

The chemical reactions of metabolism are organized into metabolic pathways, in which one chemical is transformed into another by a sequence of enzymes. Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they allow organisms to drive desirable but thermodynamically unfavorable reactions by coupling them to favorable ones, and because they act as catalysts to allow these reactions to proceed quickly and efficiently. Enzymes also allow the regulation of metabolic pathways in response to changes in the cell's environment or signals from other cells.

The metabolism of an organism determines which substances it will find nutritious and which it will find poisonous. For example, some prokaryotes use hydrogen sulfide as a nutrient, yet this gas is poisonous to animals. The speed of metabolism, the metabolic rate, also influences how much food an organism will require.

A striking feature of metabolism is the similarity of the basic metabolic pathways between even vastly different species. For example, the set of carboxylic acids that are best known as the intermediates in the citric acid cycle are present in all organisms, being found in species as diverse as the unicellular bacteria Escherichia coli and huge multicellular organisms like elephants. These striking similarities in metabolism are most likely the result of the high efficiency of these pathways, and of their early appearance in evolutionary history.

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