The mercury resistance (mer) operon in a marine gliding flavobacterium, Tenacibaculum discolor 9A5

Rachel C. Allen, Yen Kuei Tu, Michael J. Nevarez, Alexander S. Bobbs, Joseph W. Friesen, Jon R. Lorsch, John A. Mccauley, Judith G. Voet, Nancy V. Hamlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Genes conferring mercury resistance have been investigated in a variety of bacteria and archaea but not in bacteria of the phylum Bacteroidetes, despite their importance in many environments. We found, however, that a marine gliding Bacteroidetes species, Tenacibaculum discolor, was the predominant mercury-resistant bacterial taxon cultured from a salt marsh fertilized with mercury-contaminated sewage sludge. Here we report characterization of the mercuric reductase and the narrow-spectrum mercury resistance (mer) operon from one of these strains - T. discolor 9A5. This mer operon, which confers mercury resistance when cloned into Flavobacterium johnsoniae, encodes a novel mercury-responsive ArsR/SmtB family transcriptional regulator that appears to have evolved independently from other mercury-responsive regulators, a novel putative transport protein consisting of a fusion between the integral membrane Hg(II) transporter MerT and the periplasmic Hg(II)-binding protein MerP, an additional MerP protein, and a mercuric reductase that is phylogenetically distinct from other known mercuric reductases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalFEMS Microbiology Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • ArsR/SmtB
  • Bacteroidetes
  • Marine bacteria
  • Mercuric reductase
  • Mercury
  • Metal resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'The mercury resistance (mer) operon in a marine gliding flavobacterium, Tenacibaculum discolor 9A5'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this