Mercury and methylmercury detoxification potential by sponge-associated bacteria

Juliana F. Santos-Gandelman, Marcia Giambiagi-Demarval, Guilherme Muricy, Tamar Barkay, Marinella S. Laport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Ionic and organic forms of mercury (Hg) are powerful cytotoxic and neurotoxic agents in both humans and wild life. The aim of this study was to analyze the resistance profile and potential detoxification of inorganic and organic forms of Hg of bacteria isolated from marine sponges on the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Out of the 1,236 colony forming units associated with eleven species of marine sponges, 100 morphologically different bacterial strains were analyzed in this study. Of these, 21 strains were resistant to Hg, 14 of which were classified as highly resistant because they grew despite exposure to 100 μM HgCl2. Fifteen resistant strains reduced Hg and presented merA in their genomes. The remaining six strains produced biosurfactants, suggesting that they may tolerate Hg by sequestration. Eleven strains grew in the presence of methylmercury. Our results suggest a potential for mercury detoxification by marine sponge-associated resistant bacteria, either through reduction or sequestration, as well as the possibility of bioremediation of toxic waste containing mercury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-590
Number of pages6
JournalAntonie van Leeuwenhoek, International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


  • Bioremediation
  • Marine environment
  • Mercury resistance
  • Sponge-associated bacteria

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mercury and methylmercury detoxification potential by sponge-associated bacteria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this