Navigation Links
Bacterial genome may hold answers to mercury mystery
Date:4/8/2011

OAK RIDGE, Tenn, April 8, 2011 -- A newly sequenced bacterial genome from a team led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory could contain clues as to how microorganisms produce a highly toxic form of mercury.

Methylmercury, a potent human neurotoxin, appears in the environment when certain naturally occurring bacteria transform inorganic mercury into its more toxic cousin. Few bacterial species are capable of this conversion, and exactly how the transformation takes place has been a matter of debate for decades.

"What is not known are the genes or the proteins that allow these bacteria to mediate the transformation," said ORNL's Steven Brown, who led a research team to sequence the genome of a bacterium in the Desulfovibrio genus that is capable of methylating mercury.

The new genome, sequenced at the California-based DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and published in the Journal of Bacteriology, lays the foundation for future research to examine the little understood mechanisms behind the production of methylmercury.

Desulfovibrio desulfuricans strain ND132 is an organism that thrives in sediments and soils without oxygen the places in lakes, streams and wetlands where mercury contamination is converted to methylmercury. It is representative of a group of organisms that "breathe" sulfate instead of oxygen and are largely responsible for mercury methylation in nature.

"This is the first Desulfovibrio genome that will methylate mercury that's been published," Brown said. "Now that we have this resource, we can take a comparative approach and look at what is different between the bacteria that can methylate mercury and those that are unable to."

The introduction of mercury into the environment primarily stems from its use in industrial processes and from the burning of fossil fuels. Although industry and regulators have worked to minimize the release of mercury, there is a legacy of mercury pollution in aquatic environments worldwide. Understanding the fundamental science behind the production of methylmercury could eventually help mitigate and reduce the impacts of mercury pollution.

"Mercury is a global contaminant of concern," Brown said. "We hope that some of the lessons we learn from these studies will be applicable to many sites. If we can identify the genes involved in mercury methylation, we hope to go to the local environment and understand more about the function and the ecology of the organisms and their gene products that mediate this transformation."


'/>"/>

Contact: Morgan McCorkle
mccorkleml@ornl.gov
865-574-7308
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Gene against bacterial attack unravelled
2. Predatory bacterial swarm uses rippling motion to reach prey
3. Nature study demonstrates that bacterial clotting depends on clustering
4. Shifts in soil bacterial populations linked to wetland restoration success
5. Caltech researchers get first 3-D glimpse of bacterial cell-wall architecture
6. Scientists present moving theory behind bacterial decision-making
7. Scientists build roach motel for nasty bugs of the bacterial variety
8. Bacterial biofilms as fossil makers
9. Winter brings flu, summer brings bacterial infections
10. Computation and genomics data drive bacterial research into new golden age
11. New research lights up chronic bacterial infection inside bone
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/19/2016)... , 19 de diciembre de 2016  Mosaic Biomedicals SL ... desarrollo acelerado de MSC-1, un anticuerpo humanizado que se espera comenzar ... 2017, con múltiples sitios previstos a lo largo de Europa y ... MSC-1 es ... inhibidor de leucemia (LIF), una citoquina pleiotrópica que se sobreexpresa en ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... and BADEN-BADEN, Germany , December 15, ... global financial services provider, today announced an agreement with NuData ... biometrics, to join forces. The partnership will enable clients to ... in compliance with local data protection regulation. ... In order to provide ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... 2016  There is much more to innovative access ... engine. Continental will demonstrate the intelligence of today,s solutions ... . Through the combination of the keyless entry and ... elements, the international technology company is opening up new ... "The integration of biometric elements brings our ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... January 19, 2017 , ... DaVita Clinical ... spectrum of drug and device development, and Prism Clinical Research , a ... today announced Verified Clinical Trials (VCT) has been selected by both ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... N.Y. , Jan. 18, 2017 Acupath ... services, announces the formation of an Executive Committee that ... and beyond. John Cucci , a ... promoted from Director of Business Development to Chief ... 2015, Mr. Cucci served in senior sales leadership roles ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... January 18, 2017 According to a new market research ... Cytology, Infectious Disease), & End User (Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories, Academic and Research Institutions) ... reach USD 739.9 Million by 2021 from USD 557.1 Million in 2016, growing ... ... MarketsandMarkets Logo ...
(Date:1/18/2017)... 2017   Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) , ... Duchenne muscular dystrophy (Duchenne) , today announced a $600,000 ... of Technology (NJIT) and Talem Technologies (Talem) as part ... to assist people living with Duchenne. PPMD is ... an embedded computer, software, a force sensor and a ...
Breaking Biology Technology: