Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 13–25 | Cite as

Arsenic speciation in polychaetes (Annelida) and sediments from the intertidal mudflat of Sundarban mangrove wetland, India

  • M. J. WattsEmail author
  • T. S. Barlow
  • M. Button
  • S. K. Sarkar
  • B. D. Bhattacharya
  • Md. Aftab Alam
  • A. Gomes
Original Paper


This paper documents the concentration of total arsenic and individual arsenic species in four soft-bottom benthic polychaetes (Perenereis cultifera, Ganganereis sootai, Lumbrinereis notocirrata and Dendronereis arborifera) along with host sediments from Sundarban mangrove wetland, India. An additional six sites were considered exclusively for surface sediments for this purpose. Polychaetes were collected along with the host sediments and measured for their total arsenic content using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Arsenic concentrations in polychaete body tissues varied greatly, suggesting species-specific characteristics and inherent peculiarities in arsenic metabolism. Arsenic was generally present in polychaetes as arsenate (AsV ranges from 0.16 to 0.50 mg kg−1) or arsenite (AsIII ranges from 0.10 to 0.41 mg kg−1) (30–53 % as inorganic As) and dimethylarsinic acid (DMAV <1–25 %). Arsenobetaine (AB < 16 %), and PO4-arsenoriboside (8–48 %) were also detected as minor constituents, whilst monomethylarsonic acid (MAV) was not detected in any of the polychaetes. The highest total As (14.7 mg kg−1 dry wt) was observed in the polychaete D. arborifera collected from the vicinity of a sewage outfall in which the majority of As was present as an uncharacterised compound (10.3 mg kg−1 dry wt) eluted prior to AB. Host sediments ranged from 2.5 to 10.4 mg kg−1 of total As. This work supports the importance of speciation analysis of As, because of the ubiquitous occurrence of this metalloid in the environment, and its variable toxicity depending on chemical form. It is also the first work to report the composition of As species in polychaetes from the Indian Sundarban wetlands.


Arsenic Sundarban Polychaetes Arsenic speciation Sediment 



The research work was financially supported by the University Grants Commission (UGC), New Delhi, India (Sanction No UGC/199/UPE/07) under the scheme ‘University with Potential for Excellence’ (Modern Biology Group). One of the authors (Md. A. Alam) is greatly indebted to UGC for awarding him project fellowship. The collaboration was facilitated through funding from the Royal Society. This work is published with the permission of the Executive Director of the British Geological Survey.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. J. Watts
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. S. Barlow
    • 1
  • M. Button
    • 2
  • S. K. Sarkar
    • 3
  • B. D. Bhattacharya
    • 3
  • Md. Aftab Alam
    • 3
  • A. Gomes
    • 4
  1. 1.British Geological SurveyNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Environmental Science GroupRoyal Military College of CanadaKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of CalcuttaCalcuttaIndia
  4. 4.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of CalcuttaCalcuttaIndia

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