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Keywords:

  • Arsenobetaine;
  • dimethyl(ribosyl)-arsine oxides;
  • dimethyl(2-hydroxyethyl)arsine oxide;
  • arsenate;
  • trimethylarsine oxide;
  • arsenic metabolism;
  • marine animals

Abstract

Trimethyl(carboxymethyl)arsonium zwitterion (arsenobetaine) is virtually ubiquitous in marine animals consumed by man. Experimental work on the transformation of arsenate to arsenobetaine in the marine environment is reviewed. Current evidence favors the conversion of arsenate to dimethyl(ribosyl)arsine oxides by algae, and the microbially mediated transformation of dimethyl(ribosyl)arsine oxides to arsenobetaine or to its immediate precursors in the sediments. Information about the transfer of arsenobetaine from the sediments to marine animals is lacking.