Variability in Arsenic Methylation Efficiency across Aerobic and Anaerobic Microorganisms

Viacava, Karen; Meibom, Karin Lederballe; Ortega, David; Dyer, Shannon; Gelb, Arnaud; Falquet, Leia; Minton, Nigel P.; Mestrot, Adrien; Bernier-Latmani, Rizlan (2020). Variability in Arsenic Methylation Efficiency across Aerobic and Anaerobic Microorganisms. Environmental science & technology, 54(22), pp. 14343-14351. ACS Publications 10.1021/acs.est.0c03908

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Microbially-mediated methylation of arsenic (As) plays an important role in the As biogeochemical cycle, particularly in rice paddy soils where methylated As, generated microbially, is translocated
into rice grains. The presence of the arsenite (As(III)) methyltransferase gene (arsM) in soil microbes has been used as an indication of their capacity for As methylation. Here, we evaluate the ability of seven microorganisms encoding active ArsM enzymes to methylate As. Amongst those, only the aerobic species were efficient methylators. The anaerobic microorganisms presented high resistance to As exposure, presumably through their efficient As(III) efflux, but methylated As
poorly. The only exception were methanogens, for which efficient As methylation was seemingly an artifact of membrane disruption. Deletion of an efflux pump gene (acr3) in one of the anaerobes, Clostridium pasteurianum, rendered the strain sensitive to As and capable of more efficiently methylating As. Our results led to the following conclusions: (i) encoding a functional ArsM enzyme does not guarantee that a microorganism will actively drive As methylation in the presence of the metalloid and (ii) there is an inverse relationship between efficient microbial As efflux and its methylation, because the former prevents the intracellular accumulation of As.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Soil Science
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Mestrot, Adrien


900 History > 910 Geography & travel




ACS Publications




Andrea Katja Weber

Date Deposited:

27 Jan 2021 08:29

Last Modified:

27 Jan 2021 08:29

Publisher DOI:





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