Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 7, pp 3037–3048 | Cite as

Mercury bioremediation by mercury resistance transposon-mediated in situ molecular breeding

  • Kazuaki Matsui
  • Ginro Endo


Mercury-resistant (HgR) bacteria occur in various bacterial species from a wide variety of environmental sources. Resistance is conferred by a set of operon genes termed the mer operon. Many HgR bacteria have been isolated from diverse environments and clinical samples, and it is recognized that mer operons are often localized on transposons. Previous research reports have suggested that HgR transposons participate in the horizontal gene transfer of mer operons among bacteria. This was confirmed by a study that found that mer operons were distributed worldwide in Bacilli with dissemination of TnMERI1-like transposons. In this mini review, possible strategies for transposon-mediated in situ molecular breeding (ISMoB) of HgR bacteria in their natural habitat are discussed. In ISMoB, the target microorganisms for breeding are indigenous bacteria that are not HgR but that are dominant and robust in their respective environments. Additionally, we propose a new concept of bioremediation technology for environmental mercury pollution by applying transposon-mediated ISMoB for environmental mercury pollution control.


Bacilli Bioremediation of environmental mercury pollution Dissemination of mercury resistance genes Mercury resistance transposon Transposon-mediated in situ molecular breeding 



The authors thank and acknowledge Prof. Simon Silver, Prof. Nigel Brown, Prof. John Hobman, Dr. Elena Bogdanova, Dr. Chieh Chen Huang, and Dr. Masaru Narita for their kind collaboration and cooperation while performing transposon-mediated ISMoB research for mercury bioremediation.

Funding information

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Number: 16K07529).

Compliance with ethical standards

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringKindai UniversityHigashiosakaJapan
  2. 2.Division of Biotechnology, Institute of Engineering and TechnologyTohoku Gakuin UniversityTagajoJapan

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