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Forskningsartikel - Refereegranskat, 2020

Methanogenesis Is an Important Process in Controlling MeHg Concentration in Rice Paddy Soils Affected by Mining Activities

Wu, Qingqing; Hu, Haiyan; Meng, Bo; Wang, Baolin; Poulain, Alexandre J.; Zhang, Hua; Liu, Jinling; Bravo, Andrea G.; Bishop, Kevin; Bertilsson, Stefan; Feng, Xinbin


Rice paddies are agricultural sites of special concern because the potent toxin methylmercury (MeHg), produced in rice paddy soils, accumulates in rice grains. MeHg cycling is mostly controlled by microbes but their importance in MeHg production and degradation in paddy soils and across a Hg concentration gradient remains unclear. Here we used surface and rhizosphere soil samples in a series of incubation experiments in combination with stable isotope tracers to investigate the relative importance of different microbial groups on MeHg production and degradation across a Hg contamination gradient. We showed that sulfate reduction was the main driver of MeHg formation and concentration at control sites, and that methanogenesis had an important and complex role in MeHg cycling as Hg concentrations increased. The inhibition of methanogenesis at the mining sites led to an increase in MeHg production up to 16.6-fold and a decrease in MeHg degradation by up to 77%, suggesting that methanogenesis is associated with MeHg degradation as Hg concentrations increased. This study broadens our understanding of the roles of microbes in MeHg cycling and highlights methanogenesis as a key control of MeHg concentrations in rice paddies, offering the potential for mitigation of Hg contamination and for the safe production of rice in Hg-contaminated areas.


rice paddy; microorganism; mercury; methylation; demethylation

Publicerad i

Environmental Science and Technology
2020, Volym: 54, nummer: 21, sidor: 13517-13526