Boron is a light element for which biochemical functions have recently been elucidated. Several bacterial species are known to produce a quorum sensing signaling molecule that contains boron (Chen et al, 2002). Boron also functions in plants to cross-link polysaccharides in the cell wall (O'Neill et al, 2001). In these examples, boron is in the form of a borate ester. Boron is also found in the antibiotics boromycin (Kohno et al, 1996) and tartrolon A and B (Irschik et al, 1995), which are synthesized by bacteria. Cleavage of carbon-boron bonds has been described in an Arthrobacter nicotinovorans strain growing on phenyl boronic acid (PBA) as a sole carbon source (Negrete-Raymond et al, 2003). Phenol is the first intermediate produced during catabolism of PBA and boron is predicted to be released during this step as orthoboric acid (B(OH)3) in a reaction catalyzed by a monooxygenase.

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