No biological function is known for lanthanum, but La3+ ions were shown to bind to the Ca2+-binding site of staphylococcal nuclease (Furie et al, 1973), and low lanthanum concentrations can stimulate growth in some bacteria (Ruming et al, 2000). Lanthanum has also been used to model heavy metal accumulation by bacteria. Pseudomonas aeruginosa exposed to La3+ accumulated needle-like lanthanum-containing crystals on cell surfaces (Mullen et al, 1989). The potential role of P. aeruginosa lipopolysaccharide side chains in the binding of lanthanum precipitates has been explored (Langley and Beveridge, 1999). Phosphatase-mediated phosphate release precipitated lanthanum as LaPO4 on the surfaces of Citrobacter sp. (Yong and Macaskie, 1998) and Acinetobacter johnsonii (Boswell et al, 2001) cells.

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Yong P, Macaskie LE. Bioaccumulation of lanthanum, uranium, and thorium, and use of a model system to develop a method for the biologically-mediated removal of plutonium from solution. J Chem Technol Biotechnol. 1998;71:15-26.


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