Anaerobic guilds responsible for mercury methylation in boreal wetlands of varied trophic status serving as either a methylmercury source or sink

Jeffra K. Schaefer, Rose Marie Kronberg, Erik Björn, Ulf Skyllberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Wetlands are common sites of active Hg methylation by anaerobic microbes; however, the amount of methylmercury produced varies greatly, as Hg methylation is dependent upon both the availability of Hg and the composition and activity of the microbial community involved. In this study, we identified the major microbial guilds responsible for Hg methylation along a trophic gradient composed of two sites and three different types of wetlands: a bog–fen peatland gradient and a black alder swamp, serving as net sources and a sink for methylmercury respectively. Iron-reducing bacteria in the Geobacteraceae were important Hg methylators across all wetlands and seasons examined, as evidenced by abundant 16S rRNA and hgcA transcripts clustering with this family. Molybdate inhibited Hg methylation more efficiently in the peatlands than in the swamp, suggesting an increasing role of sulfate-reducing bacteria and/or related syntrophs in the methylation of Hg with decreasing trophic status. Sulfate addition failed to increase Hg methylation rates in the peatlands, suggesting that SRBs/syntrophs were instead likely metabolizing alternative substrates such as syntrophic fermentation of organic compounds with methanogens. These results highlight the interconnectivity of anaerobic metabolism and importance of community dynamics on the methylation of Hg in wetlands with different trophic status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3685-3699
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental microbiology
Volume22
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Anaerobic guilds responsible for mercury methylation in boreal wetlands of varied trophic status serving as either a methylmercury source or sink'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this