Organomercurials removal by heterogeneous merB genes harboring bacterial strains

Mei Fang Chien, Masaru Narita, Kuo Hsing Lin, Kazuaki Matsui, Chieh Chen Huang, Ginro Endo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Organomercury lyase (MerB) is a key enzyme in bacterial detoxification and bioremediation of organomercurials. However, the merB gene is often considered as an ancillary component of the mer operon because there is zero to three merB genes in different mer operons identified so far. In this study, organomercurials' removal abilities of native mercury-resistant bacteria that have one or multiple merB genes were examined. Each heterogeneous merB genes from these bacteria was further cloned into Escherichia coli to investigate the substrate specificity of each MerB enzyme. The merB1 gene from Bacillus megaterium MB1 conferred the highest volatilization ability to methylmercury chloride, ethylmercury chloride, thimerosal and p-chloromercuribenzoate, while the merB3 from B. megaterium MB1 conferred the fastest mercury volatilization activity to p-chloromercuribenzoate. The substrate specificities among these MerB enzymes show the necessity for selecting the appropriate bacteria strains or MerB enzymes to apply them in bioremediation engineering for cleaning up specific organomercurial contaminations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-98
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jul


  • Bioremediation
  • Mercury resistance
  • Organomercurial removal
  • Organomercury lyase gene


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