Freshwater phytoplankton: biotransformation of inorganic arsenic to methylarsenic and organoarsenic

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Scientific Reports, 2019, 9 (1)
Issue Date:
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© 2019, The Author(s). The biotransformation and detoxification mechanisms of arsenic (As) species have been active research topics because of their significance to environmental and human health. Biotransformation of As in phytoplankton has been extensively studied. However, how different growth phases of phytoplankton impact As biotransformation in them remains uncertain. This study investigated the biotransformation of As species in freshwater phytoplankton at different growth phases to ascertain at which growth phase different types of biotransformation occur. At the logarithmic growth phase, arsenate (AsV) (>90%) and arsenite (AsIII) (>80%) predominated in culture media when phytoplankton were exposed to 20 nmol L−1 and 1.0 µmol L−1 of AsV, respectively, and methylarsenic (methylAs) species were not detected in them at all. Intracellular As was mainly present in inorganic forms (iAs) at the logarithmic phase, while substantial amounts of organoarsenic (orgAs) species were detected at the stationary phase. At the stationary phase, AsV comprised the majority of the total As in culture media, followed by AsIII and methylAs, although the methylation of AsV occurred slowly at the stationary phase. Biotransformation of AsV into AsIII and As methylation inside phytoplankton cells occurred mainly at the logarithmic phase, while the biotransformation of As into complex orgAs compounds occurred at the stationary phase. Phytoplankton rapidly released iAs and methylAs species out of their cells at the logarithmic phase, while orgAs mostly remained inside their cells.
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