Scientists Solve Mercury Mystery
By identifying two genes required for transforming inorganic into organic mercury, which is far more toxic, UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) scientists today have taken a significant step toward protecting human health. The question of how methylmercury, an organic form of mercury, is produced by natural processes in the environment has stumped scientists for decades, but a team comprised of four researchers at UT has solved the puzzle. UT contributors included Jeremy Smith, UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Molecular Biophysics and director of the Center for Molecular Biophysics at ORNL, and UT-ORNL researchers Mircea Podar, Steven Brown, and Dwayne Elias. The findings were released today in Science. To read more, visit ORNL’s website.