Navigation

Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Contamination Study shows mercury disrupts algae metabolism

(Eawag – aquatic research)

Even tiny amounts of mercury can wreak havoc on algae, with the effects being passed up the food chain and onto dinner plates. 

Researchers at the University of Geneva have measured how mercury affects the gene expression of algae, even at levels generally considered safe by European environmental protection standards. Using molecular biology tools, it was the first study to explore mercury poisoning at the microalgae level. 

The study, published in Nature.com’s Scientific Reportsexternal link on Tuesday, shows how mercury enters the food chain via Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a green microalga that measures just six by ten microns. The Geneva-based researchers chose it because its genome had been fully sequenced, making it possible to observe the effects of mercury.

They discovered that exposure to methylmercury disrupted more than 5,000 of the alga’s genes – potentially putting fish that feed on it at risk. Humans that consume fish heavily contaminated with mercury can suffer severe neurological disorders.

Other animals are already suffering. 

“It is a global problem since high levels of mercury have been detected in the blood of polar bears, far from any source of contamination. It is crucial, therefore, that we understand the governing mechanisms, both from an environmental and public health perspective,” wrote study leader Vera Slaveykova in a media releaseexternal link.

swissinfo.ch/sm

Neuer Inhalt

Horizontal Line


subscription form

Form for signing up for free newsletter.

Sign up for our free newsletters and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.







Click here to see more newsletters

swissinfo EN

The following content is sourced from external partners. We cannot guarantee that it is suitable for the visually or hearing impaired.

Join us on Facebook!

×