Lithium has no known biological function, but a variety of microbial interactions with lithium have been described. In Eschericia coli, lithium has been found to both stimulate proline uptake (Kayama and Kawasaki, 1976) and to be cotransported with proline (Tsuchiya et al, 1984). Lithium uptake in E. coli can also occur by cotransport with some sugars via the melibiose transport system (Tsuchiya et al, 1983). Lithium detoxification in E. coli is achieved through the extrusion of lithium ions by a Na+(Li+)/H+ antiporter (Inaba et al, 1994). In Saccharomyces cerevisiae, lithium detoxification may also be mediated by efflux through a cation antiporter (Rodriguez-Navarro et al, 1981) as well as by sequestration of lithium ions in the vacuole (Perkins and Gadd, 1993). Lithium ions can substitute for sodium ions (with limited efficiency) to drive the flagellar motor in the bacterium Vibrio alginolyticus (Liu et al, 1990). Bioaccumulation of lithium isotopes by bacteria has been reported (Sakaguchi and Tomita, 2000), and bioleaching of lithium from the mineral spodumene (LiAl(SiO3)2) by fungi and bacteria has been demonstrated (Karavaiko et al, 1980; Rezza et al, 1997).

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Search Medline for lithium metabolism AND bacteria

Sakaguchi T, Tomita O. Bioseparation of lithium isotopes by using microorganisms. Resource Environ Biotech. 2000;3(2/3):173-182.


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