Linking Genes to Microbial Biogeochemical Cycling Lessons from Arsenic

Yong-Guan Zhu, Xi-Mei Xue, Andreas Kappler, Barry P Rosen, Andrew A Meharg

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7326-7339
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2017


  • Journal Article

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