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Role Of Plasmids In Mercury Transformation By Bacteria Isolated From The Aquatic Environment.

B. Olson, T. Barkay, R. Colwell
Published 1979 · Biology, Medicine

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Eight mercury-resistant bacterial strains isolated from the Chesapeake Bay and one strain isolated from the Cayman Trench were examined for ability to volatilize mercury. Mercury volatilization was found to be variable in the strains tested. In addition, plasmids were detected in all strains. After curing, two of the bacterial strains lost mercury resistance, indicating that volatilization is plasmid mediated in these strains. Only two cultures demonstrated ability to methylate mercuric chloride under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions. Methylation of mercury, compared with volatilization, appears to be mediated by a separate genetic system in these bacteria. It is concluded that mercury volatilization in the estuarine environment can be mediated by genes carried on plasmids.



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