Diversity of methyl halide-degrading microorganisms in oceanic and coastal waters

Michael J Cox, Hendrik Schäfer, Phillip D Nightingale, Ian R McDonald, J Colin Murrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Methyl halides have a significant impact on atmospheric chemistry, particularly in the degradation of stratospheric ozone. Bacteria are known to contribute to the degradation of methyl halides in the oceans and marine bacteria capable of using methyl bromide and methyl chloride as sole carbon and energy source have been isolated. A genetic marker for microbial degradation of methyl bromide ( cmuA ) was used to examine the distribution and diversity of these organisms in the marine environment. Three novel marine clades of cmuA were identified in unamended seawater and in marine enrichment cultures degrading methyl halides. Two of these cmuA clades are not represented in extant bacteria, demonstrating the utility of this molecular marker in identifying uncultivated marine methyl halide-degrading bacteria. The detection of populations of marine bacteria containing cmuA genes suggests that marine bacteria employing the CmuA enzyme contribute to methyl halide cycling in the ocean.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-8
Number of pages8
JournalFEMS Microbiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 Federation of European Microbiological Societies. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Bacteria/classification
  • Bacterial Proteins/genetics
  • Biodiversity
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial/chemistry
  • Genetic Markers
  • Hydrocarbons, Brominated/metabolism
  • Methyltransferases/genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Seawater/microbiology
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


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