Mercury (Hg) pollution is a critical problem worldwide, with large socio-economic, environmental and health impacts. Industrial pollution, particularly from chloralkali plants, is destructive to the marine environment at local, regional and global scales, raising serious concerns for ecosystems and human health.
The international Minamata Convention seeks to reduce Hg in the environment, forcing engaged parties to reduce emissions and remediate contaminated sites. In support to this international initiative, MER-CLUB aims at delivering a Hg clean-up system based on microbial bioremediation. Marine microorganisms hold the genetic potential for Hg detoxification and represent an economical and highly efficient alternative for decontamination, not yet exploited to its full potential.
Using recent advances in environmental genomics, cell sorting and Hg Stable Isotope tracing, we will identify strains and consortia with potential for Hg bioremediation in sediments from the Baltic, Mediterranean and the Atlantic.