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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Apr;66(4):1479-88.

Sediment microbial community structure and mercury methylation in mercury-polluted Clear Lake, California.

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  • 1Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, California 95616, USA.


Spatial and temporal variations in sediment microbial community structure in a eutrophic lake polluted with inorganic mercury were identified using polar lipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis. Microbial community structure was strongly related to mercury methylation potential, sediment organic carbon content, and lake location. Pore water sulfate, total mercury concentrations, and organic matter C/N ratios showed no relationships with microbial community structure. Seasonal changes and changes potentially attributable to temperature regulation of bacterial membranes were detectable but were less important influences on sediment PLFA composition than were differences due to lake sampling location. Analysis of biomarker PLFAs characteristic of Desulfobacter and Desulfovibrio groups of sulfate-reducing bacteria suggests that Desulfobacter-like organisms are important mercury methylators in the sediments, especially in the Lower Arm of Clear Lake.

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