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Mercury-methylating bacteria are associated with copepods: A proof-of-principle survey in the Baltic Sea
Stockholm University.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4192-6956
Stockholm University.
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4587-8541
2020 (English)In: PLoS ONE, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 15, no 3, article id e0230310Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a potent neurotoxin that biomagnifies in marine food webs. Inorganic mercury (Hg) methylation is conducted by heterotrophic bacteria inhabiting sediment or settling detritus, but endogenous methylation by the gut microbiome of animals in the lower food webs is another possible source. We examined the occurrence of the bacterial gene (hgcA), required for Hg methylation, in the guts of dominant zooplankters in the Northern Baltic Sea. A qPCR assay targeting the hgcA sequence in three main clades (Deltaproteobacteria, Firmicutes and Archaea) was used in the field-collected specimens of copepods (Acartia bifilosa, Eurytemora affinis, Pseudocalanus acuspes and Limnocalanus macrurus) and cladocerans (Bosmina coregoni maritima and Cercopagis pengoi). All copepods were found to carry hgcA genes in their gut microbiome, whereas no amplification was recorded in the cladocerans. In the copepods, hgcA genes belonging to only Deltaproteobacteria and Firmicutes were detected. These findings suggest a possibility that endogenous Hg methylation occurs in zooplankton and may contribute to seasonal, spatial and vertical MeHg variability in the water column and food webs. Additional molecular and metagenomics studies are needed to identify bacteria carrying hgcA genes and improve their quantification in microbiota.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2020. Vol. 15, no 3, article id e0230310
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-40421DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0230310PubMedID: 32176728Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85081963074OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-40421DiVA, id: diva2:1416526
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018- 05213Swedish Research Council Formas, 2018- 01010Available from: 2020-03-24 Created: 2020-03-24 Last updated: 2020-03-31Bibliographically approved

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Motwani, Nisha H.

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