Macrophyte floating roots are considered as hotspots for methylmercury (MeHg) production in aquatic ecosystems through microbial activity. Nevertheless, very little is known about periphyton bacterial communities and mercury (Hg) methylators in such ecological niches. The ability to methylate inorganic Hg is broadly distributed among prokaryotes; however, sulfate-reducers have been reported to be the most important MeHg producers in macrophyte floating roots. In the present work, the periphyton bacterial communities colonizing Ludwigia sp. floating roots were investigated through molecular methods. Among the 244 clones investigated, anaerobic microorganisms associated with the sulfur biogeochemical cycle were identified. Notably, members of the sulfur-oxidizing prokaryotes and the anoxygenic, purple non-sulfur bacteria (Rhodobacteraceae, Comamonadaceae, Rhodocyclaceae, Hyphomicrobiaceae) and the sulfate reducers (Desulfobacteraceae, Syntrophobacteraceae, and Desulfobulbaceae) were detected. In addition, 15 sulfate-reducing strains related to the Desulfovibrionaceae family were isolated and their Hg-methylation capacity was tested using a biosensor. The overall results confirmed that Hg methylation is a strain-specific process since the four strains identified as new Hg-methylators were closely related to non-methylating isolates. This study highlights the potential involvement of periphytic bacteria in Hg methylation when favorable environmental conditions are present in such ecological micro-niches.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 30, 2017
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