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Is the addition of a methyl-group (-CH3) to a compound. Will lead to production (usually) of volatile complexes:

  • Most well-studied is Hg methylation, mostly by SRB. Main product is methyl mercury (CH3Hg+; dimethyl Hg may also be formed) which is water soluble and readily permeates cell membranes; highly toxic to most life forms (50 100x) Hg2+ except to those microbes that methylate Hg. May accumulate within the food chain with fatal results (e.g. Minamata).
  • Other metals which may be microbially methylated: Sn, Cd, Tl, Sb, Pb(?).
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