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Molecular composition of organic matter controls methylmercury formation in boreal lakes
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Limnology. Uppsala University, Science for Life Laboratory, SciLifeLab.
Umea Univ, Dept Chem, SE-90187 Umea, Sweden..
Umea Univ, Dept Ecol & Environm Sci, SE-90187 Umea, Sweden..
Umea Univ, Dept Chem, SE-90187 Umea, Sweden..
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2017 (English)In: Nature Communications, ISSN 2041-1723, E-ISSN 2041-1723, Vol. 8, article id 14255Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A detailed understanding of the formation of the potent neurotoxic methylmercury is needed to explain the large observed variability in methylmercury levels in aquatic systems. While it is known that organic matter interacts strongly with mercury, the role of organic matter composition in the formation of methylmercury in aquatic systems remains poorly understood. Here we show that phytoplankton-derived organic compounds enhance mercury methylation rates in boreal lake sediments through an overall increase of bacterial activity. Accordingly, in situ mercury methylation defines methylmercury levels in lake sediments strongly influenced by planktonic blooms. In contrast, sediments dominated by terrigenous organic matter inputs have far lower methylation rates but higher concentrations of methylmercury, suggesting that methylmercury was formed in the catchment and imported into lakes. Our findings demonstrate that the origin and molecular composition of organic matter are critical parameters to understand and predict methylmercury formation and accumulation in boreal lake sediments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 8, article id 14255
National Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Oceanography, Hydrology and Water Resources
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-316930DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14255ISI: 000393586600001PubMedID: 28181492OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-316930DiVA, id: diva2:1079687
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2011-7192 2012-3892 2013-6978The Kempe Foundations, SMK-2745 SMK-2840Swedish Research Council Formas, 2012-986Available from: 2017-03-09 Created: 2017-03-09 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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