Detoxification of toxic heavy metals by marine bacteria highly resistant to mercury
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Pollution in industrial areas is a serious environmental concern, and interest in bacterial resistance to heavy metals is of practical significance. Mercury (Hg), Cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb) are known to cause damage to living organisms, including human beings. Several marine bacteria highly resistant to mercury (BHRM) capable of growing at 25 ppm (mg L sup(-1) or higher concentrations of mercury were tested during this study to evaluate their potential to detoxify Cd and Pb. Results indicate their potential of detoxification not only of Hg, but also Cd and Pb. Through biochemical and 16S rRNA gene sequence analyses, these bacteria were identified to belong to Alcaligenes faecalis (seven isolates), Bacillus pumilus (three isolates), Bacillus sp. (one isolate), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (one isolate), and Brevibacterium iodinium (one isolate). The mechanisms of heavy metal detoxification were through volatilization (for Hg), putative entrapment in the extracellular polymeric substance (for Hg, Cd and Pb) as revealed by the scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, and/or precipitation as sulfide (for Pb). These bacteria removed more than 70% of Cd and 98% of Pb within 72 and 96 h, respectively, from growth medium that had initial metal concentrations of 100 ppm. Their detoxification efficiency for Hg, Cd and Pb indicates good potential for application in bioremediation of toxic heavy metals.
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