Selenium Biomethylation Products from Soil and Sewage Sludge

Science  02 May 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4443, pp. 500-502
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4443.500


Inorganic selenium compounds are converted to volatile methylated species (dimethyl selenide, dimethyl diselenide, and dimethyl selenone or methyl methylselenite) by microorganisms in sewage sludge and soil. In the absence of added selenium, no volatile selenium compounds were detected. All samples were evaluated without the addition of nutrients and in the presence of air or nitrogen. The methylation process may be an important step in the detoxification process for microorganisms exposed to high concentrations of selenium.