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EVIDENCE OF MERCURY METHYLATION AND DEMETHYLATION BY THE ESTUARINE MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES OBTAINED IN STABLE HG ISOTOPE STUDIES
Figueiredo, N., M.L. Serralheiro, J. Canario, A. Duarte, H. Hintelmann, and C. Carvalho.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15:Article 2141(2018)

Microbial communities were isolated from sediments of two highly Hg-polluted areas of the Tagus Estuary and differentiated according to their dependence on oxygen into three groups: aerobic, anaerobic, and sulfate-reducing microbial communities. Their potential to methylate Hg and demethylate methylmercury was evaluated through incubation with isotope-enriched Hg species (199HgCl and CH3201HgCl). The isolated microbial communities were found to be actively involved in methylation and demethylation processes. The production of CH3 199Hg was positively correlated with sulfate-reducing microbial communities, methylating up to 0.07% of the added 199Hg within 48 h of incubation. A high rate of CH3201Hg degradation was observed, and >20% of CH3201Hg was transformed. Hg removal of inorganic forms was also observed. Results demonstrate the simultaneous occurrence of microbial methylation and demethylation processes and indicate that microorganisms are mainly responsible for methylmercury formation and accumulation in the Tagus Estuary. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/10/2141/pdf



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