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Methyl mercury (MeHg), the most toxic form of mercury (Hg), is a neurotoxin of pervasive global concern, as it can be bioaccumulated and biomagnified through food webs and severely threatens human and ecosystem health. A key step is the transformation of inorganic Hg to MeHg mediated by various microorganisms in predominantly anaerobic environment.
My project is to:
1) Study the linkages between MeHg production and Hg methylator diversity in Swedish lake sediments, forest soils and wetlands. A detailed characterization of Hg methylating communities will be performed on the MiSeq Illumina platform (a at a fraction of the previous time and cost.
2) Explore the connection between the metabolisms of identified Hg methylators and the environmental conditions with regards to carbon sources and electron acceptors, factors identified as potentially important in previous geochemical studies of the factors that influenced the MeHg formation.
3) As part of this study, a protocol combining the new sequencing technique with direct molecular probing and amplification will be developed.
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