Paynes Prairie, Ibis, trees, grasses, water, marsh. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham
Paynes Prairie, Ibis, trees, grasses, water, marsh. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

It was shocking to learn that birds are turning homsexual under the influence of uncontrolled concentration of mercury in environment!

Is this the reason we have this tendency increasing in humans too? Vaccines are loaded with mercury preservatives. Thiomersal (also known as thimerosal) is a mercury- based preservative that has been used in some vaccines. No of vaccines is increased from count 4 to 5 to 40-50 now. Besides vaccine, there are numerous ways Mercury is used in modern pharma.


Mercury is altering gene expression

Although mercury is found naturally in the environment (it is emitted, for example, when a volcano erupts), its concentration has been steadily increasing because of human activity: by burning coal or releasing mercury as part of various industrial processes. It is now estimated that over half the mercury in the air is linked to human activities, and that the ratio is nearly two-thirds in the aquatic environment. And it is a global problem since high levels of mercury have been detected in the blood of polar bears, far from any source of contamination. It is crucial, therefore, that we understand the governing mechanisms, both from an environmental and public health perspective.

The mercury found at very low concentrations in water is concentrated along the entire food chain, from algae via zooplankton to small fish and on to the largest fish — the ones we eat. Mercury causes severe and irreversible neurological disorders in people who have consumed highly contaminated fish. Whereas we know about the element’s extreme toxicity, what happens further down the food chain, all the way down to those microalgae that are the first level and the gateway for mercury? By employing molecular biology tools, a team of researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has addressed this question for the first time. The scientists measured the way mercury affects the gene expression of algae, even when its concentration in water is very low, comparable to European environmental protection standards. Find out more about the UNIGE research in Scientific Reports.

Cellular toxicity pathways of inorganic and methyl mercury in the green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii

Contamination by mercury (Hg) is a worldwide concern because of Hg toxicity and biomagnification in aquatic food webs. Nevertheless, bioavailability and cellular toxicity pathways of inorganic (IHg) and methyl-Hg (MeHg) remain poorly understood. We analyzed the uptake, transcriptomic, and physiological responses in the microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii exposed to IHg or MeHg. Bioavailability of MeHg was up to 27× higher than for IHg. Genes involved in cell processes, energy metabolism and transport were dysregulated by both Hg species. Physiological analysis revealed an impact on photosynthesis and reduction–oxidation reaction metabolism. Nevertheless, MeHg dysregulated a larger number of genes and with a stronger fold-change than IHg at equivalent intracellular concentration. Analysis of the perturbations of the cell’s functions helped to derive a detailed mechanistic understanding of differences in cellular handling of IHg and MeHg resulting in MeHg having a stronger impact. This knowledge is central for the prediction of impact of toxicants on organisms.

Mercury Poisoning Makes Birds Act Homosexual

Male birds that eat mercury-contaminated food show “surprising” homosexual behavior, scientists have found.

In a recent experiment in captive white ibises, many of the males exposed to the metal chose other males as mates.

These “male-male pairs did everything that a heterosexual pair would do,” said study leader Peter Frederick, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“They built their nest, copulated together, stayed together on a nest for a month, even though there were no eggs—they did the whole nine yards.”

Wild white ibises—among the most common birds in Florida‘s Everglades—are exposed daily to mercury through their diets of crustaceans and other small invertebrates.

The prey animals take up mercury that’s long seeped into the Everglades as a byproduct of industrial processes such as waste incineration.

Recent pollution-control measures have “grossly reduced” the contamination, Frederick said. Even so, the new study shows that ibises experience “fairly major reproductive problems at pretty low levels of [mercury].”

Contaminated Birds Produce Fewer Babies

During the five-year experiment, Frederick and colleague Nilmini Jayasena divided 160 young captive white ibises into four groups of equal numbers of males and females.