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MECHANISMS OF METHYL MERCURY NET DEGRADATION IN ALDER SWAMPS: THE ROLE OF METHANOGENS AND ABIOTIC PROCESSES
Kronberg, R.M., J.K. Schaefer, E. Bjoern, and U. Skyllberg.
Environmental Science & Technology Letters 5(4):220-225(2018)

Wetlands are common net producers of the neurotoxin monomethylmercury (MeHg) and are largely responsible for MeHg bioaccumulation in aquatic food-webs. Black alder (Alnus glutinosa) swamps, however, net degrade MeHg. This paper reports the mechanisms of MeHg demethylation in one such swamp, shown to be a sink for MeHg over four consecutive years. The potential demethylation rate constant in soil incubations was ~3 times higher in the downstream as compared to the upstream part of the swamp. This difference concurred with increased stream and soil pH and a change in plant community composition. Though methanogen-specific transcripts (mcrA) were found throughout the wetland, transcripts clustering with Methanosaetaceae suggested a possible role for these acetoclastic methanogens in MeHg degradation. See additional information on this work in R.M. Kronberg's thesis at https://pub.epsilon.slu.se/10994/.



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