Desulfovibrio desulfuricans strain ND132 is an organism that thrives in sediments and soils without oxygen — the places in lakes, streams and wetlands where mercury contamination is converted to methylmercury. It is representative of a group of organisms that “breathe” sulfate instead of oxygen and are largely responsible for mercury methylation in nature. “This is the first Desulfovibrio genome that will methylate mercury that’s been published,” Brown said. “Now that we have this resource, we can take a comparative approach and look at what is different between the bacteria that can methylate mercury and those that are unable to.”
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