Scientists Solve Mercury Mystery

Read the full story from Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

By identifying two genes required for transforming inorganic into organic mercury, which is far more toxic, scientists today have taken a significant step toward protecting human health.

The question of how methylmercury, an organic form of mercury, is produced by natural processes in the environment has stumped scientists for decades, but a team led by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has solved the puzzle. Results of the study, published in the journal Science, provide the genetic basis for this process, known as microbial mercury methylation, and have far-reaching implications.

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