Postdoctoral scientist


Phone: (34) 93 230 95 00

Andrea G. Bravo

Mercury is a global pollutant that might damage the central nervous system of severely exposed humans. Although all forms of mercury are toxic, the organic form, methylmercury, is of special concern because it accumulates and biomagnifies in aquatic food webs. In order to draw effective management strategies to reduce human exposure to mercury, I am interested in elucidating all possible sources of methylmercury for aquatic ecosystems, including internal processes. In particular, my research focuses on the identification and description of the main biological and chemical factors driving the formation and biomagnification of methylmercury.

I obtained my PhD in Environmental Sciences in Switzerland (Geneva University, 2010), where I revealed the impact of chlor-alkali and sewage treatment plants on mercury pollution. Afterwards, I obtained a project by the Swedish Research Council to move to Sweden and work as a post-doc (Uppsala University, 2012-2014). My postdoc positions in Sweden included 3 additional years at Uppsala University (2014-2016), funded by the international SMaRef Project where I acted as a Work Package leader, and 4 months at Umeå University (2017). During these 5 years I studied the effect of organic matter molecular composition in methylmercury formation and bacterial activity. I also unveiled the composition of mercury methylating microbial communities. An evidence of the relevance of the studies I performed in Sweden is that I am the 2019 Raymond L. Lindeman awardee from the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography – ASLO (this award recognises an outstanding publication by a young scientist). In 2017, I obtained a Beatriu de Pinós post-doc grant from the Generalitat de Catalunya to move to the IDAEA-CSIC in Barcelona to study the key organic molecules driving methylmercury formation. I ceased this postdoc when I obtained a highly-competitive Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission, to work on mercury cycling in the ocean at the Institute of Marine Sciences ICM-CSIC (2018-2020).

During all these years, I have used innovative approaches in my research, including isotopic techniques, deep characterization of organic matter, iron and sulfur speciation, and genomics and I have encompassed a wide range of environments, from soils, boreal mires and oligotrophic lakes, to eutrophic reservoirs, rivers and, ponds and, more recently, the global ocean to provide mechanistic understanding of the processes controlling mercury cycling.


Mercury methylating microbial communities of boreal forest soils (2019)

J. Xu, Moritz Buck, K. Eklof; O. Ahmed; J. K Schaefer; K. Bishop; E. Bjorn; S. Bertilsson; A. G. Bravo.

Scientific Reports volume 9, Article number: 518. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-37383-z

Methanogens and iron-reducing bacteria: the overlooked members of mercury methylating microbial communities in boreal lakes (2018)

A.G. Bravo, S. Peura, M. Buck, O. Ahmed, A. Mateos-Rivera, S. Herrero Ortega, J. K Schaefer, S. Bouchet, J. Tolu, E. Björn, S. Bertilsson

Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 84 (23). DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01774-18

The inter play between total mercury, methylmercury and dissolved organic matter in fluvial systems: A latitudinal study across Europe (2018)

A. G.  Bravo, D. N. Kothawala, K. Attermeyer, E. Tessier, P. Bodmer et al.

Water Research 144, 172–182. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.06.064

Geobacteraceae are important members of mercury-methylating microbial communities of sediments impacted by wastewater releases (2018)

A. G. Bravo, J. Zopfi, S. Bertilsson, J. Xu, M. Buck, J. Pote, C. Cosio

The ISME journal 12:802–812. DOI: 10.1038/s41396-017-0007-7

High methylmercuryformation in ponds fueled by fresh humic and algal derived organic matter (2018)

S. Herrero, N. Catalán, H. Gröntoft, T. G Hilmarsson, S Bertilsson, P. Wu, K. Bishop, O. Levanoni, E. Björn, A. G. Bravo

Limnology & Oceanography 63, 44-53. DOI: 10.1002/lno.10722

Molecular composition of organic matter controls methylmercury formation in lakes (2017)

A. G. Bravo, S. Bouchet, J. Tolu, E. Björn, A. Mateos-Rivera, S. Bertilsson

Nature Communications 8, 14255. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14255

Role of settling particles on mercury methylation in the oxic water column of freshwater systems (2016)

E. Gascón Díez, J-L. Loizeau, C. Cosio, S. Bouchet, T. Adatte, D. Amouroux, A. G. Bravo

Environmental Science & Technology 50 (21), 11672-11679. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.6b03260

High methylmercury production under ferruginous conditions in sediments 5impacted by sewage treatment plant discharges (2016)

A. G. Bravo, S. Bouchet, S. Guédron D. Amouroux, J. Dominik, J. Zopfi

Water Research 80, 245–255. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2015.04.039

Extremely elevated Methylmercury levels in water, sediment and organisms in a Romanian reservoir affected by release of mercury from a chlor-alkali plant (2014)

A. G. Bravo, C. Cosio, P-A. Chevalley, J. Zopfi, D. Amouroux, J. Spangenberg, V-G. Ungureanu, J. Dominik

Water Research 49 (1) 391-405. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2013.10.024


MER-CURE: Using global marine metagenomics to understand MERcury microbial associated processes: finding a CURE for mercury contaminated environments

Funding entity: MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS (Call: H2020-MSCA-IF-2016)    Start: 01/09/2018    End: 30/08/2020

Source and composition of organic matter for predicting Methylmercury formation in Mediterranean reservoirs

Funding entity: Agency for Management of University and Research Grants of the Generalitat de Catalunya (Beatriu de Pinós). 

Start: 01/07/2017 End: 30/08/2018

Understanding mercury transformations in aquatic systems through metagenomics approaches

Funding entity: The Foundation Olsson-Borg    Start: 01/01/2016    End: 31/12/2016

Understanding mercury transformations in aquatic systems through metagenomics approaches

Funding entity: The Foundation Olsson-Borg    Start: 01/01/2014    End: 31/12/2014

The influence of stump harvest on the creation of hot-spots for mercury methylation

Funding entity: Swedish Energy Center, Energimyndigheten

Start: 01/01/2013 End: 30/06/2015

Impact of microbial community structure on mercury methylation

Funding entity: Swedish Research Council

Start: 14/03/2012 End: 13/03/2014

Mercury methylation and biomagnification in a reservoir contaminated by a chlor-alkali plant

Funding entity: the Ernst and Lucie Schmidheiny Foundation

Start: 01/06/2009 End: 30/08/2009


Role of peatlands on mercury cycling (on going PhD)

Author: Baolin Wang

Supervisors: Andrea G. Bravo ,Matts B. Nilsson, Staffan Åkerblom, Stefan Bertilsson, Guangle Qiu, Kevin Bishop

Institution: Uppsala University

Year: 2020 (Date of reading)

Potential microbial detoxifiers of methylmercury in Barcelona city continental shelf (MsC Thesis)

Author: Marina Pérez García

Supervisors: Silvia Acinas and Andrea G. Bravo

Institution: Universidad del Barcelona

Year: 2018

Remediation of mercury contaminated soil and biological mercury methylation in the landscape (PhD Thesis)

Author: Jingying Xu

Supervisors: Stefan Bertilsson and Andrea G. Bravo

Institution: Universidad del Pais Vasco

Year: 2018

Photodegradation of methylmercury in boreal lakes (MsC Thesis)

Author: Torfi Geir Hilmarsson

Supervisor: Andrea G. Bravo

Institution: Uppsala University

Year: 2016

Fresh organic matter drives mercury methylation (MsC Thesis)

Author: Hannes Grontoft

Supervisor: Andrea G. Bravo

Institution:Uppsala University

Year: 2015

Mercury methylation in beaver ponds (MsC Thesis)

Author: Sonia Herrero Ortega

Supervisor: Andrea G. Bravo

Institution: Uppsala University

Year: 2015

Impact of molybdate on microbial community structure (MsC Thesis)

Author: Alejandro Mateos Rivera

Supervisor: Andrea G. Bravo

Institution: Uppsala University

Year: 2013