Microbial Availability of Mercury: Effective Detection and Organic Ligand Effect Using a Whole-Cell Bioluminescent Bioreporter


Xianghua Xu, Kathryn Oliff, Tingting Xu, Steven Ripp, Gary Sayler, Jie Zhuang


A luxCDABE-based genetically engineered bacterial bioreporter (Escherichia coli ARL1) was used to detect bioavailable ionic mercury (Hg(II)) and investigate the effects of humic acids and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) on the bioavailability of mercury in E. c oli. Results showed that the E. c oli ARL1 bioreporter was sensitive to mercury, with a detection limit of Hg(II) of 0.5 µg/L and a linear dose/response relationship up to 2000 µg Hg(II)/L. Humic acids and EDTA decreased the Hg(II)-induced bioluminescent response of strain ARL1, suggesting that the two organic ligands reduced the bioavailability of Hg(II) via complexation with Hg(II). Compared with traditional chemical methods, the use of E. c oli ARL1 is a cost-effective, rapid, and reliable approach for measuring aqueous mercury at very low concentrations and thus has potential for applications in field in situ monitoring.

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Xu X, Oliff K, Xu T, Ripp S, Sayler G, Zhuang J. 2015. Microbial availability of mercury: Effective detection and organic ligand effect using a whole-cell bioluminescent bioreporter. Ecotoxicology, doi:10.1007/s10646-015-1553-2.