Mercury Interactions with Algae: Effects on Mercury Bioavailability in the San Francisco Bay-Delta

Start/End: June, 2007 to August, 2012

This project seeks to more clearly understand the entry and movement of mercury into and through the San Francisco Bay-Delta’s food chain. The key idea being explored is that dissolved organic matter (DOM) binds to mercury, decreasing its bioavailability to the base of the food chain. Consistent with this, the fellow has measured an inverse relationship between DOM concentrations in water and methylmercury accumulation in algae. She has also shown that amphipods (bug-like invertebrates that feed on algae) assimilate 65–70% of the methylmercury in the algae. Ongoing work to be reported soon examines the effects of chlorine (and other factors) on mercury availability and uptake.