2010 年 130 巻 9 号 p. 1143-1156
Mercury and its organic compounds, especially methylmercury are extremely hazardous pollutants that have been released into the environment in substantial quantities by natural events and anthropogenic activities. Due to the acute toxicity of these contaminants, there is an urgent need to develop an effective and affordable technology to remove them from the environments. Recently, attempts have been made to utilize bacterial mer operon-mediated reduction and volatilization of mercurials for environmental remediation of mercury pollution. However, application of this technology to the treatment of mercury-contaminated environments has been limited by social concerns about the release of volatile mercury that will become part of the local mercury cycle and repollute the environment again, into the ambient air. To improve this environmental problem, a new mercury scavenging mechanism that could be expressed in living cells and accumulates mercury from contaminated site without releasing mercury vapor is necessitated. To construct a new biocatalyst that is capable of specifically accumulating mercury from contaminated sites without releasing mercury vapor, we have genetically engineered bacteria and tobacco plant for removal of mercury from wastewater and soils, respectively, to express a mercury transport system and organomercurial lyase enzyme simultaneously, and overexpress polyphosphate, a chelator of divalent metals. The applicability of these new engineered biocatalysts in the environmental remediation of mercurials is evaluated and discussed in this review.