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Biotic and Abiotic Degradation of Methylmercury in Aquatic Ecosystems: A Review

  • Hongxia Du
  • Ming Ma
  • Yasuo IgarashiEmail author
  • Dingyong WangEmail author
Focused Review

Abstract

Mercury (Hg) methylation and demethylation is supposed to simultaneously exist in the environment and form a cycle, which determines the net production of methylmercury (MeHg). Exploring the mechanisms of MeHg formation and degradation, and its final fate in the natural environment is essential to understanding the biogeochemical cycle of Hg. However, MeHg demethylation has been less studied in the past years comparing with Hg methylation, particularly in anaerobic microorganisms whose demethylation role has been under-evaluated. This review described the current state of knowledge on biotic (microorganisms) and abiotic demethylation (photodegradation, chemical degradation) of MeHg. The decomposition of MeHg performed by microorganisms has been identified as two different pathways, reductive demethylation (RD) and oxidative demethylation (OD). Anaerobic and aerobic microorganisms involved in the process of RD and OD, influencing factors as well as research background and histories are systematically described in this review. It is predicted that the photodegradation mechanism, as well as anaerobic microorganisms involved in MeHg formation and degradation cycle will be the focus of future research.

Keywords

Methylmercury Biotic demethylation Abiotic demethylation Mechanisms 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41603098 & 41573105), and the Natural Science Foundation of Chongqing (cstc2017jcyjAX0250).

Supplementary material

128_2018_2530_MOESM1_ESM.docx (40 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 40 KB)

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Resources and EnvironmentSouthwest UniversityChongqingChina
  2. 2.Chongqing Key Laboratory of Bio-Resource for BioenergySouthwest UniversityChongqingChina

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