Antimony is highly toxic to biological systems in many of its forms (ToxFAQs: Antimony). Antimony is not known to function in common metabolism, but it can be incorporated into lipids ("stibnolipids") in the marine diatom Thalassiosira nana (Benson and Cooney, 1988). Biomethylation of antimony is known to occur (Gurleyuk et al, 1997), and some of the microorganisms involved have been identified (reviewed by Bentley and Chasteen, 2002).

Volatile trimethylantimony has been detected in the head space above pure cultures of bacteria (Desulfovibrio vulgaris and Clostridium collagenovorans) and methanogenic archaea (Methanobacterium formicicum, M. thermoautotropicum, and Methanosarcina barkeri) conducting anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge (Michalke et al, 2000). Trimethylantimony has also been found above cultures of the fungus Scopulariopsis brevicaulis grown aerobically in the presence of potassium antimony tartrate (Craig et al, 1999). Involatile methylated antimony species have been shown to be produced under aerobic conditions by the bacterium Flavobacterium sp. (Jenkins et al, 2002) and the fungi S. brevicaulis (Andrewes et al,2000) and Phaeolus schweinitzii (Andrewes et al, 2001). Anaerobic production of involatile methylated antimony compounds has been demonstrated by the bacteria C. acetobutylicum, C. butyricum, and C. cochlearium (Smith et al, 2002).

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Search Medline for antimony metabolism AND bacteria

Andrewes P, Cullen WR, Polishchuk E, Reimer KJ. Antimony biomethylation by the wood rotting fungus Phaeolus schweinitzii. Appl Organometal Chem. 2001 Jun;15(6):473-480.

Benson AA, Cooney RA. Antimony metabolites in marine algae, p. 135-37. In Craig PJ, Glockling F (eds.), Organometallic Compounds in the Environment. Principles and Reactions. Longmans; Harlow, UK. 1988.

Craig PJ, Jenkins RO, Dewick R, Miller DP. Trimethylantimony generation by Scopulariopsis brevicaulis during aerobic growth. Sci Total Environ. 1999 May;229(1-2):83-88.

Gurleyuk H, Fleet-Stalder VV, Chasteen TG. Confirmation of the biomethylation of antimony compounds. Appl Organometal Chem. 1997 Dec;11:471-483.

MacCordick J. Cellular adsorption and absorption of antimony (III) by Mycobacterium smegmatis. C R Acad Sci III. 1990;310(11):471-6. (French)

Sanders OI, Rensing C, Kuroda M, Mitra B, Rosen BP. Antimonite is accumulated by the glycerol facilitator GlpF in Escherichia coli. Bacteriol. 1997 May;179(10):3365-7.


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