About this Research Topic
Trace elements are persistent in the environment and the level of their pollution has gained high visibility and attracted public health concern globally. Trace elements are released into the environment through both natural processes and anthropogenic activities. Some trace elements are considered potential soil contaminants, such as arsenic (As), antimony (Sb), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), or lead (Pb). They become toxic at elevated levels and can be taken up by crops, especially those that grow on contaminated soils, and move up the food chain, eventually increasing human risks of diseases.
Microbes play a dominant role in the biogeochemical cycling of trace elements. The global biogeochemical cycle of trace elements depends on their speciation, mobility and bioavailability. They could be affected by various geochemical processes like methylation, redox potential, temperature, or pH-related adsorption–desorption. In turn, toxic elements can affect microbial diversity and activity, which could result in changed behavior in processes such as reduction, biomineralization, biosorption, methylation, and volatilization.
Further knowledge of microbes involved in the biogeochemical cycle of trace elements is important for a better understanding of the mechanism of their bioremediation. Advanced approaches, such as metagenomics and metaproteomics, are helpful for disclosing the microbial community structure, composition, and functions, and identifying novel catabolic genes and enzymes involved in degradation and detoxification of pollutants in contaminated environments.
However, many knowledge gaps remain, for example the microbial pathways leading to the production or degradation of organic species of trace elements still are not fully described. Further research is also needed to develop advanced analytical techniques to detect, identify and quantify trace amounts of these species in the environment.
Thus, the aim of this Research Topic is to explore the global biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the environment and their bioremediation, including the new molecular and analytical advances to study trace element transformations. We welcome authors to submit both Original Research and Review articles that deepen current understanding of the environmental behavior of various trace elements occurring either from natural or anthropogenic activity, such as mercury, arsenic, antimony, selenium and others. This Research Topic will reflect the great challenges we all face in protecting our environment from contamination by toxic trace elements. Particular attention will be dedicated to the following themes:
• Environmental conditions and factors affecting biogeochemical cycles of trace elements,
• Synthesis and function of trace elements in the environment,
• Microbial genes/proteins involved in trace elements bioremediation,
• Trace elements biotransformation,
• Analytical advances for detection, identification, and speciation of trace elements,
• Role of microbes in the speciation and behavior of trace elements,
• Effect of trace elements on the diversity and activity of microbial communities.
All submitted articles need to be hypothesis-driven, merely descriptive manuscripts won’t be considered for review.
Keywords: trace element, speciation, microorganisms, biotransformation, detoxification, bioremediation
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.