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. 2017 Jul 5;51(13):7326-7339.
doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b00689. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Linking Genes to Microbial Biogeochemical Cycling: Lessons From Arsenic

Free PMC article

Linking Genes to Microbial Biogeochemical Cycling: Lessons From Arsenic

Yong-Guan Zhu et al. Environ Sci Technol. .
Free PMC article


The biotransformation of arsenic is highly relevant to the arsenic biogeochemical cycle. Identification of the molecular details of microbial pathways of arsenic biotransformation coupled with analyses of microbial communities by meta-omics can provide insights into detailed aspects of the complexities of this biocycle. Arsenic transformations couple to other biogeochemical cycles, and to the fate of both nutrients and other toxic environmental contaminants. Microbial redox metabolism of iron, carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen affects the redox and bioavailability of arsenic species. In this critical review we illustrate the biogeochemical processes and genes involved in arsenic biotransformations. We discuss how current and future metagenomic-, metatranscriptomic-, metaproteomic-, and metabolomic-based methods will help to decipher individual microbial arsenic transformation processes, and their connections to other biogeochemical cycle. These insights will allow future use of microbial metabolic capabilities for new biotechnological solutions to environmental problems. To understand the complex nature of inorganic and organic arsenic species and the fate of environmental arsenic will require integrating systematic approaches with biogeochemical modeling. Finally, from the lessons learned from these studies of arsenic biogeochemistry, we will be able to predict how the environment changes arsenic, and, in response, how arsenic biotransformations change the environment.

Conflict of interest statement


The authors declare no competing financial interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Proposed pathways for arsenic redox reactions and synthesis of novel organoarsenicals.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Model of effect of Fe, N, S, and natural organic matter (NOM) on microbes involved in arsenic biogeochemical cycling highlights proteins associated with elemental metabolisms. Green ovals denote arsenic transporters, yellow ovals denote transmembrane enzymes. Red words are enzymes, blue words are related arsenic compounds. The full name of enzymes that were not mentioned in the text was provided in the follow, NarG, transmembrane nitrate reductase that drives the nitrate reduction to nitrite; Nas, cytoplasmic-assimilatory nitrate reductase that drives the nitrate reduction to nitrite; NapA, periplasmic-dissimilatory nitrate reductase; Nir/Nrf (associated with NapA), nitrite reductase that drives the nitrite reduction to nitric oxide; NorB/C, nitric oxide reductase that drives the nitric oxide reduction to nitrous oxide; NosZ, nitrous oxide reductase that drives the nitrous oxide reduction to nitrogen; Nif, nitrogenase that catalyzes the nitrogen fixation to ammonia; Hs, hydrazine synthase that catalyzes the production of nitrogen from nitrous oxide and ammonia; cyt, cytochrome.

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