Isabel Sanz, member of the MER-CLUB team, defends her PhD thesis

February 24, 2021 was a big day for Isabel Sanz, who had the defense of her PhD thesis.

Part of the thesis entitled “Contribution of marine heterotrophic bacteria to microbial diversity and mercury detoxification”, has set the basis for developing isolation strategies and identification of bacteria encoding the mercury detoxification system (mer operon). 

Her work shows how they have identified a marine heterotrophic bacterium belonging to the Alteromonas mediterranea species, and isolated from bathypelagic South Atlantic waters from Malaspina Expedition, that can tolerate up to 70 µm of inorganic mercury (HgCl2) and 10 µm of the organic methylmercury (MeHg). Additionally, this strain achieved a degradation efficiency of 98.2 % in 24 h when grown at 4 µM of MeHg. The complete genome sequence of the strain allowed us to explore its biogeographic distribution against Malaspina global bathypelagic metagenomes, indicating also that it was a widely distributed bacteria across all the bathypelagic ocean.

Another step towards a cleaner sea. Congratulations, Isabel!