Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Biosynthesis and degradation of methylmercury in human faeces


MERCURY is transformed by the microorganisms present in aquatic sediments1 and rat intestines2. Examples of some of the important reactions are illustrated below.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Jensen, S., and Jernelöv, A., Nature, 223, 753–754 (1969).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Abdullah, M., Arnesjö, B., and Ihse, I., Svenska Läkartidingen, 71, 810–811 (1974).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Norseth, T., and Clarkson, T. W., Archs Environ. Health, 22, 568–577 (1968).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bryant, M. P., and Robinson, I. M., J. Dairy Sci., 44, 1446–1456 (1961).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Hungate, R. E., Bact. Rev., 14, 1–49 (1950).

    CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  6. Westöö, G., Acta Chem. scand., 22, 2277–2280 (1968).

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Wood, J. M., Kennedy, F. S., and Rosen, C. G., Nature, 220, 173 (1968).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

EDWARDS, T., MCBRIDE, B. Biosynthesis and degradation of methylmercury in human faeces. Nature 253, 462–464 (1975).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing