Mineral salts are essential for living organisms. To be precise, it is from these, living cells get their basic components, the ions. Common salt, for example, contains chloride and sodium ions which the cell uses to establish and maintain electrochemical balance with the environment.
In order to achieve sodium equilibrium in animal cells, for example, the external sodium concentration has to be ten times greater than the internal one. It is precisely due to this difference in concentration that the cells get their food from their environment. So, sodium equilibrium is fundamental to the life of animals.
These salt concentrations, so important to animals, are, however, detrimental to the majority of plants. In fact, the ion balance in cells is different for animals and plants and the sodium ion is more toxic for plants than for animals.
Garazi Andonegi | Basque research
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