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Biomethylation and biovolatilisation of arsenic, antimony and mercury. Local environmental issues, novel analytical approaches and global implications

Applicant Mestrot Adrien
Number 163661
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Start/End 01.06.2016 - 28.02.2021
Approved amount 1'694'986.00
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All Disciplines (5)

Discipline
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Inorganic Chemistry
Geochemistry
Experimental Microbiology
Environmental Research

Keywords (14)

Biomethylation; Biovolatilisation; Mobility; HPLC-ICP-MS; Antimony; Arsenic; Speciation; HPLC-ESI-MS; Mercury; CNS-IRMS & OH-IRMS; Mercure; Antimoine; Pollution

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Biométhylation et biovolatilisation de l’arsenic, de l’antimoine et du mercure. Problèmes environnementaux locaux, nouvelles techniques d’analyse et implications globales.L'arsenic (As), l'antimoine (Sb) et le mercure (Hg) sont des éléments trace toxiques et l'on ne sait que très peu de choses sur leur comportement dans l'environnement. Nous savons cependant que les facteurs environnementaux, tels que la température, ou les micro-organismes vivant dans les sols peuvent influencer leur comportement. Nos recherches utilisent des techniques analytiques novatrices, développées dans notre laboratoire, pour comprendre ces influences et évaluer leur impact sur l'environnement.
Lay summary

As, Sb et Hg ont été utilisés abondamment durant les 150 dernières années comme pesticides, armes chimiques, retardateurs de flamme, dans les plastiques et les munitions, comme amalgame dentaire ou encore comme catalyseurs chimique. Ce n'est que récemment que leurs effets négatifs sur l'environnement et les humains ont été étudiés. De plus, ces recherches ont presque toujours eu comme origine une catastrophe environnementale et/ou humaine. Pour le Hg, ce fut la catastrophe de Minamata au Japon. Pour l'As, cela a été la découverte de très hautes concentrations d'As d'origine naturelle dans les eaux souterraines en Asie du Sud Est. Cette pollution touche aujourd'hui autour de 100 millions de personnes. Le Sb a été bien moins étudié que l'As ou le Hg et il n'existe presque pas de législation sur cet élément bien qu'il s'apparente à l'As. De plus, ces problèmes sont aussi locaux. En Suisse, 15-20t de Sb se retrouvent ans les sols chaque année à cause des activités de tir et il existe une pollution importante au Hg en Valais. Enfin, des "hot-spots" d'As d'origine naturelle existent dans le Jura, le Valais et le Tessin.

Notre but principal est l'étude du comportement de l'As, du Sb et du Hg dans les sols Suisses afin de participer aux efforts de remédiation dans les zones polluées locales. De plus, nos recherches incluront aussi des zones polluées du Bangladesh et de Chine afin de comprendre le comportement global de ces polluants. Nous souhaitons estimer l'influence des transformations microbiennes sur l'As, le Sb et le Hg dans les sols (e.g. biométhylation et biovolatilisation) en utilisant des techniques analytiques novatrice (couplages chromatographie et spectrométrie de masse). Avec ces techniques, nous sommes capables de mesurer les différentes espèces chimiques de ces éléments. Enfin, nous voulons évaluer l'impact des pratiques agricoles et du changement climatique sur ces espèces chimiques.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.05.2016

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Arsenic (As), antimony (Sb) and mercury (Hg) are toxic trace elements and very little is known about their behavior, once released in the environment. We do know that environmental factors (temperature, water etc..) and micro-organisms living in the soil can influence the behavior of these trace elements. Our research uses new methods, developed in our laboratory, to understand this influence and assess its impact on the environment.
Lay summary

As, Sb and Hg have been heavily used throughout the last century and a half as pesticide, chemical weapons, flame retardants, in plastics and in ammunition, as amalgam for gold mining or as chemical catalysts. It was only recently that their negative impacts on the environment and humans have been evaluated. Such investigations almost always originated from reported environmental and human catastrophes. In the case of Hg, it was the Minamata Bay catastrophe in Japan. For As, it was the discovery of very high levels of naturally present As in the groundwater in SE Asia, impacting up to 100 million people. Sb has been much less studied than As or Hg and there is only very little legislation on this element although initial findings show that its behavior and toxicity are similar to As. However, these issues also exist locally. In Switzerland, 15-20t of Sb enters the soil each year through shooting activities while an important Hg pollution exists in Valais between Visp and Raron. Finally, hot-spots of naturally occurring As exist in the Jura, the Valais and inTessin.

Our main goal is to study the behavior of As, Sb and Hg in soils in Switzerland in order to contribute to the remediation efforts in locally polluted areas. Our research will also take place in polluted areas of Bangladesh and of China so that we can understand the global behavior of these pollutants. Our focus is on assessing the microbial transformation of As, Sb and Hg in soils (e.g. biomethylation and biovolatilisation) by developing new analytical techniques (speciation analysis using chromatography and mass spectrometry). With these techniques we are able to precisely measure the different chemical species of these pollutants. Furthermore, our goal is to evaluate the influence of agricultural practices and climate change on these chemical species.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.05.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Sorption kinetics of isotopically labelled divalent mercury (196Hg2+) in soil
Shetaya Waleed H., Huang Jen-How, Osterwalder Stefan, Mestrot Adrien, Bigalke Moritz, Alewell Christine (2019), Sorption kinetics of isotopically labelled divalent mercury (196Hg2+) in soil, in Chemosphere, 221, 193-202.
Holocene land cover change in south-western Amazonia inferred from paleoflood archives
Lombardo Umberto, Ruiz-Pérez Javier, Rodrigues Leonor, Mestrot Adrien, Mayle Francis, Madella Marco, Szidat Sönke, Veit Heinz (2019), Holocene land cover change in south-western Amazonia inferred from paleoflood archives, in Global and Planetary Change, 174, 105-114.
Release and Biomethylation of Antimony in Shooting Range Soils upon Flooding
Grob Matthias, Wilcke Wolfgang, Mestrot Adrien (2018), Release and Biomethylation of Antimony in Shooting Range Soils upon Flooding, in Soil Systems, 2(2), 34-34.
Long- and short-term effects of mercury pollution on the soil microbiome
Frossard Aline, Donhauser Johanna, Mestrot Adrien, Gygax Sebastien, Bååth Erland, Frey Beat (2018), Long- and short-term effects of mercury pollution on the soil microbiome, in Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 120, 191-199.
Uptake and Transformation of Methylated and Inorganic Antimony in Plants
Ji Ying, Mestrot Adrien, Schulin Rainer, Tandy Susan (2018), Uptake and Transformation of Methylated and Inorganic Antimony in Plants, in Frontiers in Plant Science, 9, 140.
An empirical perspective for understanding climate change impacts in Switzerland
Henne Paul D., Bigalke Moritz, Büntgen Ulf, Colombaroli Daniele, Conedera Marco, Feller Urs, Frank David, Fuhrer Jürg, Grosjean Martin, Heiri Oliver, Luterbacher Jürg, Mestrot Adrien, Rigling Andreas, Rössler Ole, Rohr Christian, Rutishauser This, Schwikowski Margit, Stampfli Andreas, Szidat Sönke, Theurillat Jean-Paul, Weingartner Rolf, Wilcke Wolfgang, Tinner Willy (2018), An empirical perspective for understanding climate change impacts in Switzerland, in Regional Environmental Change, 18(1), 205-221.
An Isotopic Dilution Approach for Quantifying Mercury Lability in Soils
Shetaya Waleed H., Osterwalder Stefan, Bigalke Moritz, Mestrot Adrien, Huang Jen-How, Alewell Christine (2017), An Isotopic Dilution Approach for Quantifying Mercury Lability in Soils, in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 4(12), 556-561.
A Herbivore Tag-and-Trace System Reveals Contact- and Density-Dependent Repellence of a Root Toxin
Bont Zoe, Arce Carla, Huber Meret, Huang Wei, Mestrot Adrien, Sturrock Craig J., Erb Matthias (2017), A Herbivore Tag-and-Trace System Reveals Contact- and Density-Dependent Repellence of a Root Toxin, in Journal of Chemical Ecology, 43(3), 295-306.
Soil Contamination with Trace Metals: Quantification, Speciation, and Source Identification
Bigalke Moritz, Schwab Lorenz, Gygax Sebastian, Mestrot Adrien (2016), Soil Contamination with Trace Metals: Quantification, Speciation, and Source Identification, 70(12), 899-899, Swiss Chemical Society, Bern 70(12), 899-899.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Xinbin Feng, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr Julie Tolu, Inorganic Environmental Geochemistry Group, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Siegfried Hapfelmeier, Institute for Infectious Diseases, UniBern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr Beat Frey, Forest Soils and Biogeochemistry Rhizosphere Processes, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Jörg Feldmann and Dr Eva Krupp, Dept. of Chemistry, University of Aberdeen Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr Steffen Boch, Institute of Plant Sciences and Botanical Garden, UniBe Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Nadia Valentina Martínez Villegas, Instituto Potosino de Investigacion Cientifica y Tecnologica Mexico (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Vera Slaveykova, Environmental biogeochemistry and ecotoxicology, Institute FA Forel, UNIGE, Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof Rizlan Bernier-Latmani, Environmental Microbiology Lab, EPFL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements 2019 Talk given at a conference Arsenic methylation across microbial phyla 05.05.2019 Nanjing, China Mestrot Adrien;
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements 2019 Talk given at a conference Volatile Sb in the Environment: from method development to first in situ measurements 05.05.2019 Nanjing, China Mestrot Adrien; Caplette Jaime;
Colloquium Plant Sciences Individual talk Trace Elements in Plants and Soils - Transformations and health implications. 01.04.2019 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Methylmercury distribution and formation in polluted agricultural floodplain soils. 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien; Gfeller Lorenz;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Volatile Sb in the Environment: from method development to first in situ measurements 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Caplette Jaime; Mestrot Adrien;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Arsenic methylation efficiency across microbial phyla 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Goldschmidt Conference 2018 Talk given at a conference Arsenic methylation efficiency across microbial phyla 12.08.2018 Boston, United States of America Mestrot Adrien;
Colloquium Department F.-A. Forel for Environmental and Aquatic Sciences Individual talk Development of new analytical methods to study the biomethylation and biovolatilisation of mercury, antimony and arsenic in the terrestrial environment 28.05.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
European Geosciences Union General Assembly Talk given at a conference Mercury and methylmercury in a mercury-contaminated agricultural floodplain in Valais, Switzerland 08.04.2018 Vienna, Austria Neuhaus Patrick; Deonarine Amrika; Mestrot Adrien; Gfeller Lorenz;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2017 Poster Trapping of volatile antimony (Sb): current work and future developments 18.11.2017 Davos, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien; Caplette Jaime;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2017 Poster Mercury and methylmercury quantification in floodplain soils, canal sediments and plants in the Upper Valais 18.11.2017 Davos, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien; Gfeller Lorenz; Deonarine Amrika; Neuhaus Patrick;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2017 Talk given at a conference Spatial distribution of mercury and methylmercury in an industrially polluted floodplain soil. 18.11.2017 Davos, Switzerland Gfeller Lorenz; Mestrot Adrien;
Colloquium Institute of Environmental Geochemistry Individual talk Development of new methods to measure and understand biomethylation and biovolatilisation of trace elements in soils: Hg & Sb 02.11.2017 Guiyang, China Caplette Jaime; Mestrot Adrien; Gfeller Lorenz;
International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant Poster Influence of agricultural practices and flooding events on the release and biomethylation of mercury in soils. 16.07.2017 Providence, United States of America Mestrot Adrien; Gfeller Lorenz;
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements Talk given at a conference Arsenic biomethylation efficiency across microbial phyla 16.07.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant Talk given at a conference Methylmercury quantification in a contaminated agricultural floodplain of Switzerland using HPLC-ICP-MS. 16.07.2017 Providence, United States of America Neuhaus Patrick; Mestrot Adrien; Deonarine Amrika; Gfeller Lorenz;
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements Talk given at a conference Mobility and biomethylation of antimony in flooded shooting range soils. 16.07.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements Talk given at a conference Trimethylantimony in shoots and roots of four plants under hydroponic conditions 16.07.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Colloquium Environmental Geochemistry Group Individual talk Biomethylation and biovolatilisation of arsenic and antimony - New insights into important mechanisms 15.05.2017 Vienne, Austria Mestrot Adrien;
14th Rio Symposium on Atomic Spectrometry Poster ANALYTICAL VALIDATION OF AN APPARATUS FOR VOLATILE ARSENIC-TRAPPING 02.04.2017 Vitoria, Brazil Mestrot Adrien;
Soil Science Society of Switzerland Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Invited Keynote: Release, biomethylation and biovolatilisation of metals and metalloids in soils. Relevance for biogeochemical cycles and future implications 09.02.2017 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2016 Talk given at a conference Antimony release and biomethylation in shooting range soils under flooded conditions 19.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2016 Poster Arsenic biomethylation efficiency across microbial phyla 19.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Goldschmidt Conference 2016 Poster Response of Mercury Biomethylation to Flooding and Manure Addition in a Polluted Agricultural Floodplain 26.06.2016 Yokohama, Japan Mestrot Adrien;
Goldschmidt Conference 2016 Poster Arsenic Methylation by the Sulfate-Reducing Bacterium Desulfotomaculum Acetoxidans 26.06.2016 Yokohama, Japan Mestrot Adrien;
Colloquium Environmental Microbilogy Lab - EPFL Individual talk Biomethylation and biovolatilisation of arsenic antimony and mercury 17.06.2016 EPFL, LAusanne, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements 2019 - Session 8 05.05.2019 Nanjing, China
Swiss Geoscience Meeting 2018 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Workshop « Questions de mise en œuvre liées à l'assainissement des stands de tir » Talk 10.04.2019 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Federal Office for Food Safety and Veterinary Affairs - Seminar Series Talk 30.01.2019 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
BAFU meeting on Soil Pollution in Switzerland Talk 16.03.2018 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
Journées Biennales des Geosciences et de l’Environnement Talk 13.02.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;
BAFU/armasuisse meeting on antimony biomethyation in shooting ranges Talk 02.05.2017 Bern, Switzerland Mestrot Adrien;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Tracking antimony in Chinese rice fields Horizon Magazine (SNSF) Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland Western Switzerland Italian-speaking Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Other activities Matura project German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Nacht der Forschung 2017 - From hardrock to flowerpower: Wie heavymetal ist Ihr Boden? German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Awards

Title Year
Travel Award to attend a conference. Commission for the Promotion of Early Career Researchers 2019
Travel Award to attend a conference. Commission for the Promotion of Early Career Researchers 2017
Travel Award to attend a conference. Commission for the Promotion of Early Career Researchers. 2017

Abstract

Arsenic, antimony and mercury are three environmentally relevant pollutants. Their speciation and thus their physico-chemical properties and toxicities are influenced by biomethylation and biovolatilisation. These two intertwined biological mechanisms are themselves impacted by land-use and climate change. The proposed project aims at understanding how these changes will affect the speciation of these three pollutants by using state-of-the-art analytical techniques, soil and micro-organisms incubations as well as direct field sampling in Swiss, Chinese and Bangladeshi contaminated areas.
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