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ORIGIN AND FATE OF METHYLMERCURY

Objective

MANY STUDIES ABOUT THE METHYLMERCURY (MEHG) FORMATION IN VARIOUS FRESHWATER AND MARINE ENVIRONMENTS, AND LABORATORY EXPERIMENTS HAVE SHOWN THAT MOSTLY MICROORGANISMS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE METHYLATION AND DEMETHYLATION OF MERCURY COMPOUNDS, ALTHOUGH IT HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED THAT THE METHYLATION CAN ALSO OCCUR ABIOTICALLY. HOWEVER, THE MICROBIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTS HAVE BEEN CARRIED OUT WITH UP TO SEVERAL ORDERS OF MAGNITUDES HIGHER HG CONCENTRATIONS THAN FOUND UNDER NATURAL CONDITIONS, SO THAT THOSE EXTRAPOLATIONS OF RESULTS ARE HIGHLY DOUBTFUL. THEREFORE, THIS HOINT RESEARCH PROJECT BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITA DI SIENA AND THE FOLLOWING LABORATORIES
- ISTITUTO DI CHIMICA GENERALE, UNIVERSITA DI GENOVA
- ENEA, LA SPEZIA
- INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY, KFA, JUELICH
- LABORATOIRE D'ECOLOGIE FONDAMENTALE ET ECOTOXICOLOGIE, UNIVERSITE DE BORDEAUX 1, TALENCE
AIMS TO INVESTIGATE THE ROLE OF BACTERIA IN BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLES OF MERCURY AND IN THE FORMATION OF MEHG UNDER REALISTIC ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS.

THE PRESENT SUB-PROJECT WILL ADDRESS IN PARTICULAR THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS:

1.- ISOLATION OF BACTERIA FROM NATURAL SOIL, FRESHWATER AND SEA WATER ENVIRONMENTS, AS WELL AS FROM EXPERIMENTAL MICROCOSMOS.

2.- SCREENING OF ISOLATED BACTERIAL STRAINS REGARDING THEIR ABILITY TO PRODUCE MEHG AND OTHER CHEMICAL HG SPECIES.

3.- IDENTIFICATION AND QUANTIFICATION OF CHEMICAL FORMS OF HG PRODUCED BY MICROORGANISMS IN THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT AND IN EXPERIMENTAL SYSTEMS.

4.- INVESTIGATIONS ON THE ECOTOXICITY OF MEHG AND OTHER ORGANOMERCURY COMPOUNDS TO MICROORGANISMS.

Funding Scheme

CSC - Cost-sharing contracts

Coordinator

Università degli Studi di Siena
Address
Via P. A. Mattioli 4
53100 Siena
Italy