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Publication Detail

Title: An examination of the factors influencing mercury and methylmercury particulate distributions, methylation and demethylation rates in laboratory-generated marine snow.

Authors: Ortiz, Veronica L; Mason, Robert P; Ward, J Evan

Published In Mar Chem, (2015 Dec 20)

Abstract: In the marine environment, settling particulates have been widely studied for their role as effective vertical transporters of nutrients and metals scavenged from the euphotic zone to the benthos. These particulates are composed of transparent exopolymers, plankton and bacterial cells, detritus and organic matter, and form various size fractions from colloids (<0.2μm) to aggregates, and finally marine snow (>300 μm). As marine snow forms in the water column, anoxic layers form around and within the aggregation potentially creating a prime environment for the methylation of mercury (Hg), which occurs primarily in low oxygen environments. To examine this process, marine aggregates were produced from sieved estuarine seawater (100 μm) in 1-L glass bottles spiked with stable isotope enriched methylmercury (CH3(199)Hg) and inorganic mercury ((200)Hg(II)) at 18° C using a roller-table. After the rolling period, different particle-size fractions were collected and analyzed, including: visible marine snow (>300μm), particulates 8 to 300 μm, and particulates 0.2 to 8μm. Particulate analysis indicated higher incorporation of both forms of Hg into marine snow compared to unrolled treatments, with greater incorporation of (200)Hg(II) than CH3(199)Hg. In addition, inorganic Hg was methylated and CH3Hg was demethylated in the larger particulate fractions (>8μm). Methylation and demethylation rates were assessed based on changes in isotopic composition of Hg(II) and CH3Hg, and found to be comparable to methylation rates found in sediments. These results indicate that net Hg methylation can occur in marine snow and smaller aggregates in oxic coastal waters, and that this net formation of CH3Hg may be an important source of CH3Hg in both coastal and open ocean surface environments.

PubMed ID: 26644635 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication

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