- •Biotransformation of arsenic includes oxidation, reduction, methylation, and conversion to more complex organic arsenicals. Members of the class of arsenite (As(III)) S-adenosylmethyltransferase enzymes catalyze As(III) methylation to a variety of mono-, di-, and trimethylated species, some of which are less toxic than As(III) itself. However, no methyltransferase gene has been identified in plants.
- •Here, an arsM gene from the soil bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris was expressed in Japonica rice (Oryza sativa) cv Nipponbare, and the transgenic rice produced methylated arsenic species, which were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography–inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS).
- •Both monomethylarsenate (MAs(V)) and dimethylarsenate (DMAs(V)) were detected in the roots and shoots of transgenic rice. After 12 d exposure to As(III), the transgenic rice gave off 10-fold greater volatile arsenicals.
- •The present study demonstrates that expression of an arsM gene in rice induces arsenic methylation and volatilization, theoretically providing a potential stratagem for phytoremediation.