Formation of involatile methylantimony species by Clostridium spp

Chemosphere. 2002 Apr;47(4):401-7. doi: 10.1016/s0045-6535(01)00309-5.


Trimethylantimony was detected by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) in the headspace of a soil enrichment culture designed to promote growth of clostridia. Clostridial isolates from the soil enrichment culture were shown to biomethylate inorganic antimony in monseptic culture, using hydride generation-gas chromatographyatomic absorption spectrometry (HG-GC-AAS). GC-MS profiles of headspace gases from soil enrichment cultures shown to generate trimethylantimony, were used to select characterised Clostridium spp for assessment of antimony biomethylation capability. Involatile methylantimony species (up to 21 microg Sb dm(-3)) were detected by HG-GC-AAS in the medium of monoseptic cultures of C. acetobutylicum, C. butyricum and C. cochlearium. The relative quantities of involatile mono-, di- and trimethylantimony species produced over the course of a 28-day cultivation period is consistent with trimethylantimony oxide being a final product of antimony biomethylation by these bacteria, with mono- and dimethylantimony species appearing transiently in the cultures as intermediates of an antimony biomethylation pathway. Clostridia may be the principal agents of antimony biomethylation in methanogenic environments and could give rise to methylated forms of antimony in both the aqueous and gaseous phases.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Clostridium / physiology*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Methylation
  • Organometallic Compounds / chemistry*
  • Soil Microbiology
  • Soil Pollutants / analysis*


  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Soil Pollutants
  • trimethylantimony