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Understanding the ion-specific effects of the mineral elements is a central theme of biology because these ions are fundamental to the composition and maintenance of life. However, experiments concerned with determining ion-specific effects are generally performed with salt, as opposed to ion, manipulations. This means that researchers have had to accept a co-variance in the co-ion of the salt used to manipulate the ion of interest. The result is that the effect of a single ion cannot be determined as it is confounded with the potential combined effects of the other ions that are co-varied. Because of this difficulty, the majority of research studies concerned with determining ion-specific effects exhibit ion confounding. The software application ARS-Media utilizes a linear programming optimization algorithm to determine the combination of salts, acids, and bases that satisfies any given target solution of ions. ARS-Media therefore allows researchers to construct experimental designs that use ions, as opposed to salts, as individual factors and, hence, experimentally determine ion-specific effects on biological responses relating to ion type, concentration, and proportion.
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