Un químic opina sobre l’arsènic

En Xavier Salvatella, químic i amic -o més aviat: amic i químic- m’ha enviat el seu punt de vista sobre la descoberta del famós bacteri arsenòfil (arsenòfil?) del llac Mono. Per cert, del llac Mono hi ha unes fotos molt boniques de l’Ansel Adams, però això és tota una altra història.

Bé, doncs, enganxo aquí sota el comentari del Xavier, una persona que hi entén força sobre la matèria:

“Fòsfor i Arsènic són a la mateixa columna de la taula periòdica i per tant tenen proprietats químiques semblants. Durant molt de temps s’ha especulat amb la substitució del Carboni per Silici, però les seves propietats no són suficientment semblants. De fet, a nivell fonamental/químic el descobriment no és terriblement sorprenent, tot i que sí curiós.

Un aspecte important de la qüestió és que l’estat d’oxidació del fòsfor no canvia mai – si no m’erro – en biologia ; sempre es troba en forma de P+5: això vol dir que en cert sentit el fòsfor no reacciona -no intercanvia electrons amb altres àtoms- sinó que sempre està envoltat d’oxigens en forma de fosfat. Això no passa amb els altres elements essencials i de fet, el canvi d’oxidació de Carboni, Oxigen i fins a cert punt Sofre, són claus per a la vida.

El que crec que serà apassionant és veure a nivell molecular com s’organitza la vida en aquests bacteris: em pregunto si les proprietats dels DNA i RNA amb Arsènic en comptes de Fòsfor són similars. També em pregunto si aquests bacteris també regulen la transmissió de informació mitjançant fosforil·lacions i quina molècula fan servir per a transferir energia si no tenen ATP.”

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