Mercury Cycling in Diverse Environments

    Over the past millennia, anthropogenic activities have substantially increased global mercury concentrations in marine and terrestrial ecosystems [1-3]. This increase poses a threat to human and environmental health because some anaerobic bacteria can convert inorganic mercury (Hg(II)) into monomethylmercury (CH3Hg+), a potent neurotoxin that biomagnifies in food webs [4]. Since mercury biogeochemistry in most natural systems is inexorably linked to microbial activity, physical processes that affect nutrient and redox gradients - which in turn control bacterial communities - must be considered. Our research on processes that control the transport and fate of mercury in the environment consequently relies on tools from the fields of geochemistry, hydrology, geomorphology, microbiology, and ecology.


[1]  Lamborg, C.H., C.R. Hammerschmidt, K.L. Bowman, G.J. Swarr, K.M. Munson, D.C. Ohnemus, P.J. Lam, L.-E. Heimbürger, M.J. Rijkenberg, and M.A. Saito, A global ocean inventory of anthropogenic mercury based on water column measurements. Nature, 2014. 512(7512): p. 65-68.

[2]  Krabbenhoft, D.P. and E.M. Sunderland, Global change and mercury. Science, 2013. 341(6153): p. 1457-1458.

[3]  Amos, H.M., D.J. Jacob, D.G. Streets, and E.M. Sunderland, Legacy impacts of all‐time anthropogenic emissions on the global mercury cycle. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 2013. 27(2): p. 410-421.

[4]  Fitzgerald, W.F. and C.H. Lamborg, Geochemistry of Mercury in the Environment, in Environmental Geochemistry: Treatise on Geochemistry, B.S. Lollar, K.K. Holland, and K.K. Turekian, Editors. 2007, Elsevier: Oxford, UK. p. 1-47.