Friday, July 12, 2024

Plankton Could Be the Answer to Countering Methylmercury


Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have shown that some phytoplankton species may offer a solution to the methylmercury problem in our waterways.

Sadly, methylmercury is prevalent in many waterways worldwide. Furthermore, this potent neurotoxin has been shown to make its way to humans via the fish they consume.

However, researchers have found that certain phytoplankton species can degrade this powerful compound. What’s more, they don’t need sunlight to detoxify the mercury and can do so in the dark.

Commenting on the work, Baohua Gu from Oak Ridge National Laboratory stated:

“We already knew that bacteria and photochemical processes can demethylate methylmercury, but we proved that phytoplankton alone could do the job.”

While Alex Johs, also from the Laboratory, added:

“The global mercury cycle is very complex, with lots of reactions taking place. Here we’ve discovered a new mechanism that can be used to improve the prediction and accuracy of mercury-cycling models to better assess risks to human health and the environment.”

You can find the original research here.

Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy
Sam Helmy is a TDI/SDI Instructor Trainer, and PADI Staff and Trimix Instructor. Diving for 28 years, a dive pro for 14, I have traveled extensively chasing my passion for diving. I am passionate about everything diving, with a keen interest in exploration, Sharks and big stuff, Photography and Decompression theory. Diving is definitely the one and only passion that has stayed with me my whole life! Sam is a Staff Writer for