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Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Nov 1;40(21):6690-6.

Novel reduction of mercury (II) by mercury-sensitive dissimilatory metal reducing bacteria.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Cook College, Rutgers University, 76 Lipman Drive, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA.


The dissimilatory metal reducing bacterium (DMRB) Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 reduces ionic mercury (Hg[II]) to elemental mercury (Hg[0]) by an activity not related to the MerA mercuric reductase. In S. oneidensis, this activity is constitutive and effective at Hg(II) concentrations too low to induce mer operon functions. Reduction of Hg(II) by MR-1 required the presence of electron donors and electron acceptors. Reduction occurred with oxygen or fumarate, but had the highest rate when ferric oxyhydroxide was used as a terminal electron acceptor. Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA and Geobacter metallireducens GS-15 reduced Hg(II) to Hg(0) with activity comparable to MR-1; however, neither the DMRB Anaeromyxobacter dehalogenans 2CP-C nor the nitrate reducer Pseudomonas stutzeri OX-1 reduced Hg(II) during growth. This discovery of constitutive mercury reduction among anaerobes has implications to the mobilization of mercury and production of methylmercury in anoxic environments.

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