Organophosphonates revealed: new insights into the microbial metabolism of ancient molecules.

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175 Citations (Scopus)


Organophosphonates are ancient molecules that contain the chemically stable C–P bond, which is considered a relic of the reducing atmosphere on primitive earth. Synthetic phosphonates now have a wide range of applications in the agricultural, chemical and pharmaceutical industries. However, the existence of C–P compounds as contemporary biogenic molecules was not discovered until 1959, with the identification of 2-aminoethylphosphonic acid in rumen protozoa. Here, we review advances in our understanding of the biochemistry and genetics of microbial phosphonate metabolism, and discuss the role of these compounds and of the organisms engaged in their turnover within the P cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalNature Reviews: Microbiology
Issue number6
Early online date23 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


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