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Article

Evidence of Mercury Methylation and Demethylation by the Estuarine Microbial Communities Obtained in Stable Hg Isotope Studies

1
Research Institute for Medicines (iMed.ULisboa), Faculty of Pharmacy, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Prof. Gama Pinto, 1649-003 Lisboa, Portugal
2
BioISI—Biosystems & Integrative Sciences Institute, Faculty of Sciences, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande C8, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal
3
Centro de Química Estrutural, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Av. Rovisco Pais 1, 1049-001 Lisboa, Portugal
4
Chemistry Department, Trent University, 1600 West Bank Drive, Peterborough, ON K9J 0G2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2141; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102141
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 25 September 2018 / Accepted: 25 September 2018 / Published: 29 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mercury Exposure and Global Change)
Microbial activity is a critical factor controlling methylmercury formation in aquatic environments. Microbial communities were isolated from sediments of two highly mercury-polluted areas of the Tagus Estuary (Barreiro and Cala do Norte) and differentiated according to their dependence on oxygen into three groups: aerobic, anaerobic, and sulphate-reducing microbial communities. Their potential to methylate mercury and demethylate methylmercury was evaluated through incubation with isotope-enriched Hg species (199HgCl and CH3201HgCl). The results showed that the isolated microbial communities are actively involved in methylation and demethylation processes. The production of CH3199Hg was positively correlated with sulphate-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. Mercury removal of inorganic forms was also observed. The results prove the simultaneous occurrence of microbial methylation and demethylation processes and indicate that microorganisms are mainly responsible for methylmercury formation and accumulation in the polluted Tagus Estuary. View Full-Text
Keywords: bacteria; SRB; estuaries; methylmercury; mercury; methylation; demethylation; biogeochemistry; estuarine chemistry; mercury isotopes bacteria; SRB; estuaries; methylmercury; mercury; methylation; demethylation; biogeochemistry; estuarine chemistry; mercury isotopes
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MDPI and ACS Style

Figueiredo, N.; Serralheiro, M.L.; Canário, J.; Duarte, A.; Hintelmann, H.; Carvalho, C. Evidence of Mercury Methylation and Demethylation by the Estuarine Microbial Communities Obtained in Stable Hg Isotope Studies. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 2141. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102141

AMA Style

Figueiredo N, Serralheiro ML, Canário J, Duarte A, Hintelmann H, Carvalho C. Evidence of Mercury Methylation and Demethylation by the Estuarine Microbial Communities Obtained in Stable Hg Isotope Studies. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2018; 15(10):2141. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102141

Chicago/Turabian Style

Figueiredo, Neusa; Serralheiro, Maria L.; Canário, João; Duarte, Aida; Hintelmann, Holger; Carvalho, Cristina. 2018. "Evidence of Mercury Methylation and Demethylation by the Estuarine Microbial Communities Obtained in Stable Hg Isotope Studies" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 15, no. 10: 2141. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102141

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