The toxicity of metals, including mercury, is expressed differently in different media, and the addition of soluble organics to the growth medium can have a significant impact on bioassay results. Although the effect of medium composition on metal toxicity is generally attributed to its effect on metal speciation (i.e., the chemical form in which the metal occurs), the importance of individual metal-ligand species remains largely unclear. Here, we report the results of a study that investigated, both experimentally and from a modeling perspective, the effects of complex soluble organic supplements on the acute toxicity (i.e., 50% inhibitory concentration [IC50]) of mercury to a Pseudomonas fluorescens isolate in chemically well-defined synthetic growth media (M-IIX). The media consisted of a basal inorganic salts medium supplemented with glycerol (0.1%, vol/vol) and a variety of common protein hydrolysates (0.1%, vol/vol), i.e., Difco beef extract (X = B), Casamino Acids (X = C), peptone (X = P), soytone (X = S), tryptone (X = T), and yeast extract (X = Y). These were analyzed to obtain cation, anion, and amino acid profiles and the results were used to compute the aqueous speciation of Hg(II) in the media. Respirometric bioassays were performed and IC50s were calculated. Medium components varied significantly in their effects on the acute toxicity of Hg(II) to the P. fluorescens isolate. IC50s ranged from 1.48 to 14.54 micrograms of Hg ml-1, and the acute toxicity of Hg(II) in the different media decreased in the order M-IIC >> M-IIP > M-IIB >> M-IIT > M-IIS >>> M-IIY.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS
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