Organoarsenical Biotransformations by Shewanella putrefaciens

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Aug 2;50(15):7956-63. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00235. Epub 2016 Jul 13.


Microbes play a critical role in the global arsenic biogeocycle. Most studies have focused on redox cycling of inorganic arsenic in bacteria and archaea. The parallel cycles of organoarsenical biotransformations are less well characterized. Here we describe organoarsenical biotransformations in the environmental microbe Shewanella putrefaciens. Under aerobic growth conditions, S. putrefaciens reduced the herbicide MSMA (methylarsenate or MAs(V)) to methylarsenite (MAs(III)). Even though it does not contain an arsI gene, which encodes the ArsI C-As lyase, S. putrefaciens demethylated MAs(III) to As(III). It cleaved the C-As bond in aromatic arsenicals such as the trivalent forms of the antimicrobial agents roxarsone (Rox(III)), nitarsone (Nit(III)) and phenylarsenite (PhAs(III)), which have been used as growth promoters for poultry and swine. S. putrefaciens thiolated methylated arsenicals, converting MAs(V) into the more toxic metabolite monomethyl monothioarsenate (MMMTAs(V)), and transformed dimethylarsenate (DMAs(V)) into dimethylmonothioarsenate (DMMTAs(V)). It also reduced the nitro groups of Nit(V), forming p-aminophenyl arsenate (p-arsanilic acid or p-AsA(V)), and Rox(III), forming 3-amino-4-hydroxybenzylarsonate (3A4HBzAs(V)). Elucidation of organoarsenical biotransformations by S. putrefaciens provides a holistic appreciation of how these environmental pollutants are degraded.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arsenic / metabolism
  • Arsenicals / chemistry*
  • Biotransformation
  • Cacodylic Acid
  • Roxarsone / chemistry
  • Shewanella putrefaciens / metabolism*
  • Swine


  • Arsenicals
  • Cacodylic Acid
  • Roxarsone
  • Arsenic