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Title: Contrasting Effects of Dissolved Organic Matter on Mercury Methylation by G. sulfurreducens PCA and D. desulfuricans ND132

Abstract

Natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) affects mercury (Hg) redox reactions and anaerobic microbial Hg methylation in the environment. Several studies have shown that DOM can enhance Hg methylation, especially under sulfidic conditions, whereas others show that DOM inhibits Hg methylation due to strong Hg-DOM complexation. Here, we investigated and compared the effects of DOM on Hg methylation by an iron-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA and a sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 under non-sulfidic conditions. The methylation experiment was performed with washed cells either in the absence or presence of DOM or glutathione, both of which form strong complexes with Hg via thiol-functional groups. DOM was found to greatly inhibit Hg methylation by G. Sulfurreducens PCA but enhance Hg methylation by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells with increasing DOM concentration. Furthermore, these strain-dependent opposing effects of DOM were also observed with glutathione, suggesting that thiols in DOM likely played an essential role in affecting cell Hg uptake and methylation. Additionally, DOM and glutathione decreased Hg sorption by G. sulfurreducens PCA, but not by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells, demonstrating that ND132 has a higher affinity to sorb or take up Hg than the PCA strain. Finally, these observations indicate that DOM effects onmore » Hg methylation are bacterial strain specific, depend on the DOM:Hg ratio or site-specific conditions, and may thus offer new insights into the role of DOM in methylmercury production in the environment.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
OSTI Identifier:
1377645
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Published Article
Journal Name:
Environmental Science and Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 51; Journal Issue: 18; Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X
Publisher:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Zhao, Linduo, Chen, Hongmei, Lu, Xia, Lin, Hui, Christensen, Geoff A., Pierce, Eric M., and Gu, Baohua. Contrasting Effects of Dissolved Organic Matter on Mercury Methylation by G. sulfurreducens PCA and D. desulfuricans ND132. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b02518.
Zhao, Linduo, Chen, Hongmei, Lu, Xia, Lin, Hui, Christensen, Geoff A., Pierce, Eric M., & Gu, Baohua. Contrasting Effects of Dissolved Organic Matter on Mercury Methylation by G. sulfurreducens PCA and D. desulfuricans ND132. United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b02518.
Zhao, Linduo, Chen, Hongmei, Lu, Xia, Lin, Hui, Christensen, Geoff A., Pierce, Eric M., and Gu, Baohua. 2017. "Contrasting Effects of Dissolved Organic Matter on Mercury Methylation by G. sulfurreducens PCA and D. desulfuricans ND132". United States. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b02518.
@article{osti_1377645,
title = {Contrasting Effects of Dissolved Organic Matter on Mercury Methylation by G. sulfurreducens PCA and D. desulfuricans ND132},
author = {Zhao, Linduo and Chen, Hongmei and Lu, Xia and Lin, Hui and Christensen, Geoff A. and Pierce, Eric M. and Gu, Baohua},
abstractNote = {Natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) affects mercury (Hg) redox reactions and anaerobic microbial Hg methylation in the environment. Several studies have shown that DOM can enhance Hg methylation, especially under sulfidic conditions, whereas others show that DOM inhibits Hg methylation due to strong Hg-DOM complexation. Here, we investigated and compared the effects of DOM on Hg methylation by an iron-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA and a sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 under non-sulfidic conditions. The methylation experiment was performed with washed cells either in the absence or presence of DOM or glutathione, both of which form strong complexes with Hg via thiol-functional groups. DOM was found to greatly inhibit Hg methylation by G. Sulfurreducens PCA but enhance Hg methylation by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells with increasing DOM concentration. Furthermore, these strain-dependent opposing effects of DOM were also observed with glutathione, suggesting that thiols in DOM likely played an essential role in affecting cell Hg uptake and methylation. Additionally, DOM and glutathione decreased Hg sorption by G. sulfurreducens PCA, but not by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells, demonstrating that ND132 has a higher affinity to sorb or take up Hg than the PCA strain. Finally, these observations indicate that DOM effects on Hg methylation are bacterial strain specific, depend on the DOM:Hg ratio or site-specific conditions, and may thus offer new insights into the role of DOM in methylmercury production in the environment.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.est.7b02518},
journal = {Environmental Science and Technology},
number = 18,
volume = 51,
place = {United States},
year = 2017,
month = 8
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record at 10.1021/acs.est.7b02518

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  • Natural dissolved organic matter (DOM) affects mercury (Hg) redox reactions and anaerobic microbial Hg methylation in the environment. Several studies have shown that DOM can enhance Hg methylation, especially under sulfidic conditions, whereas others show that DOM inhibits Hg methylation due to strong Hg-DOM complexation. Here, we investigated and compared the effects of DOM on Hg methylation by an iron-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA and a sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 under non-sulfidic conditions. The methylation experiment was performed with washed cells either in the absence or presence of DOM or glutathione, both of which form strong complexes with Hgmore » via thiol-functional groups. DOM was found to greatly inhibit Hg methylation by G. Sulfurreducens PCA but enhance Hg methylation by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells with increasing DOM concentration. Furthermore, these strain-dependent opposing effects of DOM were also observed with glutathione, suggesting that thiols in DOM likely played an essential role in affecting cell Hg uptake and methylation. Additionally, DOM and glutathione decreased Hg sorption by G. sulfurreducens PCA, but not by D. desulfuricans ND132 cells, demonstrating that ND132 has a higher affinity to sorb or take up Hg than the PCA strain. Finally, these observations indicate that DOM effects on Hg methylation are bacterial strain specific, depend on the DOM:Hg ratio or site-specific conditions, and may thus offer new insights into the role of DOM in methylmercury production in the environment.« less
  • We propose the use of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132 as a model species for understanding the mechanism of microbial Hg methylation. Strain ND132 is an anaerobic dissimilatory sulfate-reducing bacterium (DSRB), isolated from estuarine mid-Chesapeake Bay sediments. It was chosen for study because of its exceptionally high rates of Hg methylation in culture and its metabolic similarity to the lost strain D. desulfuricans LS, the only organism for which methylation pathways have been partially defined. Strain ND132 is an incomplete oxidizer of short-chain fatty acids. It is capable of respiratory growth using fumarate as an electron acceptor, supporting growth without sulfide production.more » We used enriched stable Hg isotopes to show that ND132 simultaneously produces and degrades methylmercury (MeHg) during growth but does not produce elemental Hg. MeHg produced by cells is mainly excreted, and no MeHg is produced in spent medium. Mass balances for Hg and MeHg during the growth of cultures, including the distribution between filterable and particulate phases, illustrate how medium chemistry and growth phase dramatically affect Hg solubility and availability for methylation. The available information on Hg methylation among strains in the genus Desulfovibrio is summarized, and we present methylation rates for several previously untested species. About 50% of Desulfovibrio strains tested to date have the ability to produce MeHg. Importantly, the ability to produce MeHg is constitutive and does not confer Hg resistance. A 16S rRNA-based alignment of the genus Desulfovibrio allows the very preliminary assessment that there may be some evolutionary basis for the ability to produce MeHg within this genus.« less
  • Microbial conversion of inorganic mercury (IHg) to methylmercury (MeHg) is a significant environmental concern because of the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of toxic MeHg in the food web. Laboratory incubation studies have shown that, despite the presence of large quantities of IHg in cell cultures, MeHg biosynthesis often reaches a plateau or a maximum within hours or a day by an as yet unexplained mechanism. In this paper, we report that mercuric Hg(II) can be taken up rapidly by cells of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132, but a large fraction of the Hg(II) is unavailable for methylation because of strong cellular sorption. Thiols,more » such as cysteine, glutathione, and penicillamine, added either simultaneously with Hg(II) or after cells have been exposed to Hg(II), effectively desorb or mobilize the bound Hg(II), leading to a substantial increase in MeHg production. The amount of thiol-desorbed Hg(II) is strongly correlated to the amount of MeHg produced (r = 0.98). Furthermore, cells do not preferentially take up Hg(II)–thiol complexes, but Hg(II)–ligand exchange between these complexes and the cell-associated proteins likely constrains Hg(II) uptake and methylation. Finally, we suggest that, aside from aqueous chemical speciation of Hg(II), binding and exchange of Hg(II) between cells and complexing ligands such as thiols and naturally dissolved organics in solution is an important controlling mechanism of Hg(II) bioavailability, which should be considered when predicting MeHg production in the environment.« less
    Cited by 1
  • Microbial conversion of inorganic mercury (IHg) to methylmercury (MeHg) is a significant environmental concern because of the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of toxic MeHg in the food web. Laboratory incubation studies have shown that, despite the presence of large quantities of IHg in cell cultures, MeHg biosynthesis often reaches a plateau or a maximum within hours or a day by an as yet unexplained mechanism. In this paper, we report that mercuric Hg(II) can be taken up rapidly by cells of Desulfovibrio desulfuricans ND132, but a large fraction of the Hg(II) is unavailable for methylation because of strong cellular sorption. Thiols,more » such as cysteine, glutathione, and penicillamine, added either simultaneously with Hg(II) or after cells have been exposed to Hg(II), effectively desorb or mobilize the bound Hg(II), leading to a substantial increase in MeHg production. The amount of thiol-desorbed Hg(II) is strongly correlated to the amount of MeHg produced (r = 0.98). Furthermore, cells do not preferentially take up Hg(II)–thiol complexes, but Hg(II)–ligand exchange between these complexes and the cell-associated proteins likely constrains Hg(II) uptake and methylation. Finally, we suggest that, aside from aqueous chemical speciation of Hg(II), binding and exchange of Hg(II) between cells and complexing ligands such as thiols and naturally dissolved organics in solution is an important controlling mechanism of Hg(II) bioavailability, which should be considered when predicting MeHg production in the environment.« less