Up to 200 million people in 70 countries are at risk from drinking water contaminated with arsenic, which is a major cause of chronic debilitating illnesses and fatal cancers. Until recently little was known about the mobility of arsenic, and how redox transformations determined its movement into or out of water supplies. Although human activities contribute to the release of arsenic from minerals, it is now clear that bacteria are responsible for most of the redox transformation of arsenic in the environment. Bacterial oxidation of arsenite (to the less mobile arsenate) has been known since 1918, but it was not until 2000 that a bacterium was shown to gain energy from this process. Since then a wide range of arsenite-oxidizing bacteria have been isolated, including aerobes and anaerobes; heterotrophs and autotrophs; thermophiles, mesophiles and psychrophiles. This book reviews recent advances in the study of such bacteria. After a section on background—geology and health issues—the main body of the book concerns the cellular machinery of arsenite oxidation. It concludes by examining possible applications. Topics treated are:

  • The geology and cycling of arsenic
  • Arsenic and disease
  • Arsenite oxidation: physiology, enzymes, genes, and gene regulation.
  • Community genomics and functioning, and the evolution of arsenite oxidation
  • Microbial arsenite oxidation in bioremediation
  • Biosensors for arsenic in drinking water and industrial effluents

chapter CHAPTER 1|23 pages

Arsenic in the environment

ByDavid Kossoff, Karen A. Hudson-Edwards

chapter CHAPTER 2|17 pages

Giant Mine, Yellowknife, Canada: Arsenite waste as the legacy of gold mining and processing

ByMackenzie Bromstad, Heather E. Jamieson

chapter CHAPTER 4|6 pages

Overview of microbial arsenic metabolism and resistance

ByJohn F. Stolz

chapter CHAPTER 5|12 pages

Prokaryotic aerobic oxidation of arsenite

ByThomas H. Osborne, Joanne M. Santini

chapter CHAPTER 6|8 pages

Anaerobic oxidation of arsenite by autotrophic bacteria: the view from Mono Lake, California

ByRonald S. Oremland, John F. Stolz, Chad W. Saltikov

chapter CHAPTER 7|17 pages

Arsenite oxidase

ByMatthew D. Heath, Barbara Schoepp-Cothenet, Thomas H. Osborne, Joanne M. Santini

chapter CHAPTER 8|16 pages

Microbial arsenic response and metabolism in the genomics era

ByPhilippe N. Bertin, Lucie Geist, David Halter, Sandrine Koechler, Marie Marchal, Florence Arsène-Ploetze

chapter CHAPTER 9|10 pages

Arsenite oxidation – regulation of gene expression

ByMarta Wojnowska, Snezana Djordjevic

chapter CHAPTER 10|20 pages

Evolution of arsenite oxidation

ByRobert van Lis, Wolfgang Nitschke, Simon Duval, Barbara Schoepp-Cothenet

chapter CHAPTER 11|15 pages

Remediation using arsenite-oxidizing bacteria

ByFrançois Delavat, Marie-Claire Lett, Didier Lièvremont

chapter CHAPTER 12|21 pages

Development of biosensors for the detection of arsenic in drinking water

ByChristopher French, Kim de Mora, Nimisha Joshi, Alistair Elfick, James Haseloff, James Ajioka