American Chemical Society
es9b03013_si_002.xls (197 kB)

Overlooked Role of Putative Non-Hg Methylators in Predicting Methylmercury Production in Paddy Soils

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posted on 2019-10-25, 14:36 authored by Yu-Rong Liu, Ziming Yang, Xinquan Zhou, Xiaomin Qu, Zizhu Li, Huan Zhong
Rice ingestion has been recognized as an important route of dietary exposure to neurotoxic methylmercury (MeHg) that is commonly synthesized in rice paddy soils. Although Hg methylators are known to regulate soil MeHg formation, the effect of non-Hg methylating communities on MeHg production remains unclear. Here, we collected 141 paddy soil samples from main rice-producing areas across China to identify associations between bacterial community composition (including both Hg and putative non-Hg methylators) and MeHg production. Results showed that the MeHg content in the paddy soils varied from 0.11 to 8.36 ng g–1 at a national spatial scale, which could be due to the shifts of soil microbial community composition across different areas. Our structure equation modeling suggested a strong link between bacterial community composition and MeHg content and %MeHg. More importantly, random forest analyses suggested a more significant role of putative non-Hg methylators than Hg methylators in predicting variations of soil MeHg content. The relative abundance of putative non-Hg methylators such as unclassified Xanthomonadales and Chitinophagaceae were strongly correlated with soil MeHg contents. Further, microbial network analysis revealed strong co-occurrence patterns between the putative non-Hg and Hg methylators. These findings highlight an overlooked role of non-Hg methylating communities in predicting MeHg production in paddy soils.