Utah State University Faculty Honor Lectures
The Faculty Association, Utah State University
Iron, iron, everywhere but. . . . The plight of the ancient mariner surrounded by undrinkable water could hardly have been more frustrating than life on earth with respect to iron. Iron is the fourth most abundant element of the earth's surface, exceeded only by oxygen, silicon, and aluminum. Virtually all forms of life from the simplest bacteria to humans require iron to catalyze numerous and complex metabolic reactions. Because of the diversity and complexity of the role of iron in the life process, it has even been suggested that the origin of life on earth centered around the catalytic properties of this metal. But in spite of its abundance, the acquisition of iron for cellular needs is a formidable problem. The fact that one of every four persons in western civilization suffers from iron-deficiency anemia is testimony to the fact that the problem has not been resolved
Emery, Thomas, "Iron and Life" (1980). Faculty Honor Lectures. Paper 61.