On the origin and evolution of microbial mercury methylation

Lin, H., Moody, E. R.R., Williams, T. A. and Moreau, J. W. (2023) On the origin and evolution of microbial mercury methylation. Genome Biology and Evolution, 15(4), evad051. (doi: 10.1093/gbe/evad051) (PMID:36951100) (PMCID:PMC10083202)

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The origin of microbial mercury methylation has long been a mystery. Here, we employed genome-resolved phylogenetic analyses to decipher the evolution of the mercury-methylating gene, hgcAB, constrain the ancestral origin of the hgc operon, and explain the distribution of hgc in Bacteria and Archaea. We infer the extent to which vertical inheritance and horizontal gene transfer have influenced the evolution of mercury methylators and hypothesize that evolution of this trait bestowed the ability to produce an antimicrobial compound (MeHg+) on a potentially resource-limited early Earth. We speculate that, in response, the evolution of MeHg+-detoxifying alkylmercury lyase (encoded by merB) reduced a selective advantage for mercury methylators and resulted in widespread loss of hgc in Bacteria and Archaea.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This publication was made possible in part through support from a Strategic Australian Postgraduate Award (PhD scholarship) to H.L. from the Environmental Microbiology Research Initiative (EMRI) at The University of Melbourne (J.W.M.) and laboratory start-up funding from the University of Glasgow to J.W.M., the Moore Foundation (https://doi.org/10.37807/GBMF9741 to T.A.W.), the Royal Society (URF\R\201024) to T.A.W., and the John Templeton Foundation (62220 to T.A.W. and E.R.R.M.).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Moreau, Dr John
Authors: Lin, H., Moody, E. R.R., Williams, T. A., and Moreau, J. W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Genome Biology and Evolution
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1759-6653
Published Online:23 March 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in Genome Biology and Evolution 15(4): evad051
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.6084/m9.figshare.21428523

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