Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins

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Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Origin of life » Chemistry » Sulfur and the Sulfur cycle, essential for life

Sulfur and the Sulfur cycle, essential for life

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Sulfur and the Sulfur cycle, essential for life

Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the body, about half concentrated in your muscles, skin and bones, and is essential for life. Sulfur makes up vital amino acids used to create protein for cells and tissues and for hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. The body uses up its store daily so it must be continually replenished for optimal health and nutrition.1 Sulfur is metabolized by all organisms, from bacteria and archaea to plants and animals. Sulfur is reduced or oxidized by organisms in a variety of forms. The element is present in proteins, nucleic acids, sulfate esters of polysaccharides, steroids, phenols, and sulfur-containing coenzymes

Sulfur is an element of surprising importance in our health. 2 It's a unique part of the protein in our food because most foods contain at least small amounts of sulfur amino acids, including taurine, methionine, and cysteine. Sulfur is critical in our ability to detoxify unwanted contaminants, and many contaminants in our food cannot be eliminated from our body without the help of sulfur. This element is also essential in our body's antioxidant protection, and many of our most critical antioxidant molecules—including glutathione—are sulfur-containing. Sulfur also plays a unique role in the structure of our connective tissue, through its incorporation into molecules like glucosamine sulfate and chondroiton sulfate. So as you can see, this mineral is truly "whole body" in its health support role.

Sulfur Assimilatory Metabolism. The Long and Smelling Road

The form of sulfur found in xylem and phloem sap is also primarily sulfate, thus translocation of sulfur throughout the plant is mostly via unmetabolized sulfate. Subsequently, sulfate is subjected to activation to adenosine 5′-phosphosulfate (5′-adenylylsulfate [APS]) for further conversion. The major assimilatory pathway is reduction of APS to sulfite (SO32−) and then sulfide (S2−). The overall reduction from sulfate to sulfide requires one ATP and eight electrons. Sulfide is then coupled with O-acetyl-Ser (OAS) that is formed from Ser, yielding Cys.


Multiple transport steps through different membranes are involved: plasma membrane transporters in the root present in the outermost cell layers for initial uptake; plasma membrane transporters of vascular tissues for long-distance translocation and of leaf mesophyll cells for assimilation coupled with photosynthesis; and inside cells, transporters associated with organelle transport, in particular, plastids and vacuoles

Bacterial transporters for sulfate and organosulfur compounds
Microorganisms require sulfur for growth, and obtain it either from inorganic sulfate or from organosulfur compounds such as sulfonates, sulfate esters, or sulfur-containing amino acids. Transport of sulfate into the cell is catalyzed either by ATP binding cassette (ABC)-type transporters (SulT family) or by major facilitator superfamily-type transporters (SulP family).

Sulfur metabolism in Bacteria, with emphasis on Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis

Operon cysDNC codes for subunit 2 of sulfate adenylyltransferase, subunit 1 of ATP sulfurylase (ATP:sulfate adenylyltransferase) and adenylylsulfate kinase. Genes cysZ and cysK may not be co-transcribed, although they are neighbours in the chromosome. CysZ is Bacterial transporters for sulfate and organosulfur compoundsprobably a membrane protein, but its function is unknown. CysK is O-acetylserine sulfhydrylase, phylogenetically related to tryptophane synthase

Sulfur's presence makes it possible to synthesize a greater variety of amino acids – the molecules that link to form protein chains – and gives nascent life a larger palette of chemicals from which to select. 3

The Sulfur cycle 4
The sulfur cycle is the collection of processes by which sulfur moves to and from minerals (including the waterways) and living systems. Such biogeochemical cycles are important in geology because they affect many minerals. Biochemical cycles are also important for life because sulfur is an essential element, being a constituent of many proteins and cofactors .

Steps of the sulfur cycle are:

Mineralization of organic sulfur into inorganic forms, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), elemental sulfur, as well as sulfide minerals.
Oxidation of hydrogen sulfide, sulfide, and elemental sulfur (S) to sulfate (SO42−).
Reduction of sulfate to sulfide.
Incorporation of sulfide into organic compounds (including metal-containing derivatives).


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