About the Biochemical Periodic Tables

Return to Top Introduction

The EAWAG-BBD biochemical periodic tables provide an overview of microbial interactions with essential and nonessential chemical elements. Information on individual elements is accessible through two representations of the periodic table of the elements: the traditional periodic table and the spiral periodic table. The spiral table is a more biologically relevant representation of the chemical elements, as it places hydrogen in a central position clustered with the other primary components of biological molecules (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur). The content accessed through the traditional and spiral tables is identical.

Individual element pages, which can be accessed by clicking element symbols in the periodic tables, contain a summary of known microbial interactions with the selected element based on reports published in scholarly journals. The purpose of the summaries is to describe all known types of interactions of a particular element with microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, fungi, and in some cases algae or other microscopic eukaryotes), but not to provide a comprehensive review of each type of interaction. In addition to biological function, described interactions with elements may also include bioreduction, bioalkylation, bioprecipitation, bioaccumulation/biosorption, and enzyme binding/activation. Some pages also contain links to additional information on topics such as toxicity or geocycling of the element.

Return to Top How to Use The Biochemical Periodic Tables

The traditional periodic table can be accessed from the "Biochemical Periodic Tables" link on the EAWAG-BBD home page. The spiral periodic table can be reached by a "Spiral Table" link at the bottom of that page. Both can also be reached by using the following URL's: http://umbbd.ethz.ch/periodic/index.html and http://umbbd.ethz.ch/periodic/spiral.html. To view individual element pages, click on an element's symbol in either of the periodic tables. Individual element pages can also be accessed by clicking on Links at the bottom of either periodic table, and then clicking on the name of an element in the list. The "Links" page also lists links to web pages outside the EAWAG-BBD server that are included in individual element pages, with the exception of links to WebElements and PubMed, which are considered standard and are not listed here.

Each individual element page contains a link (the "Chemical Properties" bar to the left of the element symbol) to information compiled in WebElements on chemical and physical properties of the element. If metabolism of compounds containing an element (or biotransformation of an element) has been described in the EAWAG-BBD, a link (the "Compounds in the EAWAG-BBD" bar to the right of the element symbol) is provided to the list of compounds contained in the database. Sources of information used to compile the summary of microbial interactions with the element are cited in the text and are linked to abstracts indexed in PubMed when available. Each element page also includes a link to a dynamic search of PubMed for microbial interactions with that element. Run the dynamic search by clicking "Search" under "For More Information". Updates to the biochemical periodic tables are announced monthly in conjunction with other EAWAG-BBD updates. The list of updates is emailed to EAWAG-BBD subscribers and can also be viewed by clicking What's New at the left of the EAWAG-BBD home page and at the top and bottom of associated pages.

Return to Top How Is Information Compiled for the EAWAG-BBD Biochemical Periodic Tables?

References used to summarize microbial interactions with elements are obtained through searches of articles indexed in online databases such as PubMed and Chemical Abstracts. Citations for articles referenced in the summary that are not indexed online are listed under "For more information". Because the summaries in individual element pages are not intended to be exhaustive overviews, review articles are cited when available. Attempts are made to thoroughly search for information on all potential types of interactions with microorganisms, but we recognize that we may miss important references. We appreciate being informed of any inaccuracies or omissions in the element pages. Contact Us with any comments or suggestions.

Return to Top Format of an Element Page

Here is an exerpt from an element page, with 10 numbered and annotated sections:


4. Tin is toxic to humans in high doses (ToxFAQs: Tin). Organotin compounds such as tributyltin and triphenyltin are used as agricultural pesticides and marine biocides. Microbial degradation and accumulation of tributyltin compounds has been studied extensively (reviewed by Gadd, 2000). The biological production of methylated tin species is well documented, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae was the first organism shown to produce methyltin compounds in pure culture (Ashby and Craig, 1987).

5. For more information:

Search Medline for tin metabolism AND bacteria

Ashby J, Craig PJ. Biomethylation of tin (II) complexes in the presence of pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Appl Organometal Chem. 1987;1:275-9.


6. [Traditional Table] [Spiral Table] [EAWAG-BBD Main Page]

7. Page Author(s): Steve Toeniskoetter, Jennifer Dommer, Tony Dodge

8. December 17, 2003 Contact Us

9. © 2014, EAWAG. All rights reserved.

10. http://umbbd.ethz.ch/periodic/elements/sn.html

A brief annotation of each of these sections:

  1. Element symbol and name.
  2. Links to information on chemical and physical properties of the element in WebElements.
  3. Links to list of compounds in the EAWAG-BBD containing the element.
  4. Description of biological function or other interactions of element with microorganisms. Includes links to references indexed in PubMed and to other web pages containing relevant information.
  5. Clicking "Search" takes user to a dynamic search of PubMed for information on bacterial metabolism involving the featured element. Also includes citations for articles cited above in the summary that are not indexed in PubMed.
  6. Links to the traditional and spiral periodic tables and to the EAWAG-BBD home page.
  7. The names of the page author(s), earliest author first.
  8. Date Last Modified, and a link to a contact page. Questions sent from there will be directed to the person best able to answer them.
  9. © notice.
  10. Page URL.

You can examine the complete element page from which this example was taken.

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