Seasonal dynamics of microbial mercury transformations in sediments and water column of Gulf of Trieste (northern Adriatic Sea)
1 National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station, Fornače 41, 6330 Piran, Slovenia
2 Department of Environmental Sciences, ‘Jožef Stefan’ Institute, Jamova 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
3 Laboratiorio de Análisis por Activación Neutrónica, Centro Atómico Bariloche, Av. Bustillo km 9.5, 8400 Bariloche, Argentina
A series of relatively simple incubation experiments to assess and evaluate microbial mercury (Hg) transformations in water column and sediments were performed monthly or bimonthly in a period from March 2011 to December 2011. Sampling campaigns were performed at station F in the southeastern part of Gulf of Trieste, northern Adriatic Sea. Gulf of Trieste has been for the last 500 year continuously impacted with inflow of Hg, originating from the Idrija Hg mine. The microbial mercury transformations were assessed using a short-lived (t1/2=64.12 h) radioisotope 197Hg. Calculated activities of microbial Hg reduction and methylation were correlated with other environmental factors, such as temperature, nutrient availability, oxygenation, organic matter, substrate (Hg in bioavailable chemical form) availability, structure of microbial community and presence of mer operon. Preliminary results show that in water column a substantial Hg reduction occurs, whereas methylation was not observed. On the other hand, long-term incubation experiments with sediments show that methylation process is active however preliminary results also suggest a significant MeHg degradation.
Key words: mercury / microbial transformation / water column / sediments / radiotracer
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
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