Work is continuing in two main areas:
(i) Biogeochemistry of elements such as arsenic, antimony, phosphorus, and mercury.
Here the main themes are: (a) the identification of metal containing species present in plants and animals and the elucidation of biochemical pathways for their formation: e.g. the arsenosugars A are found in marine and terrestrial alga - the ribose moiety probably derives from S-adenosylmethionine. (b) Biological processes involving metals in large scale sources such as land fills and hot springs. (c) The development of methodology for the analyses of compounds such as A: in this case HPLC/ICP/MS is effective.
(ii) The Chemistry/Biochemistry of Organic Pollutants
The analysis of PAHs is being refined and developed so that individual compounds and their degradation products, present in laboratory culture and in the environment, can be monitored. In particular, new methodology employing ion trap mass spectrometry allows the identification of alkyl PAHs in complex mixtures. One objective of these studies is to isolate microorganisms that can degrade PAHs for possible use in bioremediation, another is to provide information about the rates of recovery of polluted environments. Studies of the effects of PAHs on marine animals such as the soft-shelled clam provide toxicity and metabolic information.
Is Arsenic an Aphrodisiac?: The Sociochemistry of an Element
By William R. Cullen, Published by Royal Society of Chemistry, 2008