Navigation Links
Microbial communities shifted dramatically after Deepwater Horizon spill
Date:6/8/2012

DURHAM, N.H. Communities of microbial organisms -- species such as nematodes, protists and fungi -- on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico changed significantly following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010, research from the University of New Hampshire's Hubbard Center for Genome Studies (HCGS) and partners found. The findings, which analyzed marine sediments from five Gulf Coast sites prior to and several months following shoreline oiling, are published in the June 6, 2012, issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers sampled sites around Dauphin Island, Ala., and Grand Isle, La., just after the Deepwater Horizon spill began but before oil reached the shore, then again several months later, in September 2010.

"In that short time period, we saw a drastic change in the microbial community," says lead author Holly Bik, a postdoctoral researcher at UNH's HCGS when the research was conducted, now at the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis. "We were shocked at how drastic the change was, pre- and post-spill."

Bik and senior author W. Kelley Thomas, director of the HCGS, as well as collaborators from Auburn University and the University of Texas, San Antonio, found that the communities of microbial eukaryotes (organisms not visible to the naked eye whose cells contain nuclei) in the sediments shifted dramatically from highly diverse communities dominated by nematodes "what you would expect on a beach," says Bik -- to an almost exclusively fungal community.

What's more, those post-spill fungi seem to have an appetite for oil. "The fungal taxa that were there were previously associated with hydrocarbons," Bik says, noting that the group of fungi sampled post-spill from the Grand Isle sites are suspected to utilize hydrocarbons and thrive in hostile, polluted conditions that appear to be intolerable for other marine fungi.

The researchers used two parallel methodologies high-throughput gene sequencing to sort the organisms into "piles" by their DNA, and an under-the-microscope taxonomic approach -- to evaluate the communities pre- and post-spill. In the taxonomic data examining nematodes, researchers found that the post-spill samples were dominated by more predatory and scavenger nematodes as well as juveniles, suggesting.

While nematodes and fungi are hardly charismatic and are unlikely to turn up on the dinner table, these little-understood yet abundant organisms are nonetheless important. "They underpin the entire ecosystem," Bik says. "If you knock out the base of the food pyramid, you're not going to have food higher up in the food chain." Further, they are also important for nutrient cycling and sediment stability.

The researchers' findings also point to the possibility of lingering but hidden effects of the spill, which is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

"If you turned up at the beach in September and looked around, you would have had no idea there was an oil spill," Bik says. "Yet our data suggest considerable hidden initial impacts across shallow Gulf sediments that may be ongoing." Ongoing research and sampling will aim to determine whether fungi are thriving and persisting long-term and whether the shift in communities is an ephemeral, seasonal or a more permanent phenomenon.

The use of high-throughput sequencing approaches to characterize changes in microscopic eukaryote communities is a cutting-edge technique for tracking environmental disturbance. "The development of these genomic tools provides a detailed understanding of the biological consequences of such environmental disasters and is the first step toward mindful approaches for mitigation and remediation of this oil spill and those we will face in the future," says Thomas, who is the Hubbard Professor of Genomics at UNH.


'/>"/>
Contact: Beth Potier
beth.potier@unh.edu
603-862-1566
University of New Hampshire
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Ozone treated water v. lethal microbial material
2. New synthetic biology technique boosts microbial production of diesel fuel
3. Report details efforts to improve, advance indoor microbial sampling
4. Keck award enables Carnegie Mellon and Stanford to dramatically expand crowdsourced RNA design
5. Nanotechnology breakthrough could dramatically improve medical tests
6. 1 year after Fukushima
7. AGU: Venice hasnt stopped sinking after all
8. Black flies may have a purpose after all
9. Estrogen hormone reveals protective ability after traumatic brain injury
10. Obstructive sleep apneas damage evident after 1 month
11. Scientists read the ash from the Icelandic volcano 2 years after its eruption
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Microbial communities shifted dramatically after Deepwater Horizon spill
(Date:1/28/2016)... SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: ... financial results for its second quarter ended December 31, 2015. ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 2 percent compared to ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 ... Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 ...
(Date:1/25/2016)... , Jan. 25, 2016  Glencoe Software, the ... pharma and publication industries, will provide the data management ... Centre (NPSC). ... Phenotypic analysis measures ... whole organisms, allowing comparisons between states such as health ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... , January 21, 2016 ... to a new market research report "Emotion Detection and ... Others), Software Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and ... - Global forecast to 2020", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... expected to reach USD 22.65 Billion by 2020, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/5/2016)... 5, 2016 On Thursday, February 11, ... for community, health and disaster services, and the ... to enhance care coordination and service delivery for the ... need and to better connect service providers to the ... San Diego has handled more than ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... February 04, 2016 , ... Morf ... today announced an interactive FDA compliance training course, Writing Effective ... Professional Society) accredited interactive course on Morf Playbook—now conveniently available on smartphones and ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Shimadzu Scientific Instruments will showcase several new ... poster sessions, and present on the analysis of mycotoxins and medical cannabis at ... 10 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. , Attendees ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... JUNCTION, N.J. , Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... care immunotherapy leader commercializing its flagship CytoSorb® blood ... cardiac surgery patients around the world, announced that ... will present at the Source Capital Group,s 2016 ... and update on the company.  ...
Breaking Biology Technology: