Mercury methylation by Geobacter metallireducens GS-15 in the presence of Skeletonema costatum

Ling-Yun DING, Yao-Yu ZHANG, Li-Juan ZHANG, Fang FANG, Ning-Ning HE, Peng LIANG, Sheng Chun WU, Ming Hung WONG, Hu-Chun TAO

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5 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, bacterial mercury (Hg) methylation was investigated under the influence of red-tide algae of Skeletonema costatum (S. costatum). The distribution and speciation of total mercury (THg) and methylmercury (MeHg) were profiled by employing Geobacter metallireducens (G. metallireducens GS-15) as the methylating bacteria. G. metallireducens GS-15 showed different capabilities in methylating different inorganic forms of Hg(II) (HgCl₂) and Hg(II)-Algae (HgCl₂ captured by S. costatum) to MeHg. In the absence of S. costatum, a maximum methylation efficiency of 4.31 ± 0.47% was achieved with Hg(II) of 1–100 μg L⁻¹, while accelerated MeHg formation rate was detected at a higher initial Hg(II) concentration. In the presence of S. costatum, there were distinct changes in the distribution of THg and MeHg by altering the bioavailability of Hg(II) and Hg(II)-Algae. A larger proportion of THg tended to be retained by a higher algal biomass, resulting in decreased methylation efficiencies. The methylation efficiency of Hg(II) decreased from 3.01 ± 0.10% to 1.01 ± 0.01% with 10-mL and 250-mL algal media, and that of Hg(II)-Algae decreased from 0.83 ± 0.13% to 0.22 ± 0.01% with 10-mL and 250-mL Hg(II)-Algae media. Fourier transform infrared spectrometry, surface charge properties and elemental compositions of S. costatum were used to infer that amine, carboxyl and sulfonate functional groups were most likely to interact with Hg(II) through complexation and/or electrostatic attraction. These results suggest that red-tide algae may be an influencing factor on bacterial Hg methylation in eutrophic water bodies. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-214
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online dateMar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


Ding, L.-Y., Zhang, Y.-Y., Zhang, L.-J., Fang, F., He, N.-N., Liang, P., . . . Tao, H.-C. (2019). Mercury methylation by Geobacter metallireducens GS-15 in the presence of Skeletonema costatum. Science of The Total Environment, 671, 208-214. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.03.222


  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Bacteria
  • Algae


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