Navigation Links
University of Tennessee professor's research shows Gulf of Mexico resilient after spill

The Gulf of Mexico may have a much greater natural ability to self-clean oil spills than previously believed, according to Terry Hazen, University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor's Chair for Environmental Biotechnology.

The bioremediation expert presented his Deepwater Horizon disaster research findings at the 245th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.

Hazen conducted research following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which is estimated to have spilled 210 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. His research team used a powerful new approach for identifying microbes in the environment to discover previously unknown and naturally occurring bacteria that consume and break down crude oil.

"The Deepwater Horizon oil provided a new source of nutrients in the deepest waters," said Hazen. "With more food present in the water, there was a population explosion among those bacteria already adapted to using oil as a food source. It was surprising how fast they consumed the oil. In some locations, it took only one day for them to reduce a gallon of oil to a half gallon. In others, the half-life for a given quantity of spilled oil was six days."

This data suggests that a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil plumes exists in the deep sea and other environs in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil-eating bacteria are natural inhabitants of the Gulf because of the constant supply of oil as food.

Hazen's team used a novel approach for identifying previously recognized kinds of oil-eating bacteria that contributed to the natural clean up of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Instead of growing the microbes in a laboratory, the team used "ecogenomics." This approach uses genetic and other analyses of the DNA, proteins and other footprints of bacteria to provide a more detailed picture of microbial life in the water.

"The bottom line from this research may be that the Gulf of Mexico is more resilient and better able to recover from oil spills than anyone thought," Hazen said. "It shows that we may not need the kinds of heroic measures proposed after the Deepwater Horizon spill, like adding nutrients to speed up the growth of bacteria that break down oil or using genetically engineered bacteria. The Gulf has a broad base of natural bacteria, and they respond to the presence of oil by multiplying quite rapidly."


Contact: Whitney Heins
University of Tennessee at Knoxville

Related biology news :

1. Mercyhurst Universitys new DNA sequencer to accelerate scientific research in region
2. Student named universitys first Lawrence scholar, researching at national laboratory
3. University of Tennessee professor links massive prehistoric bird extinction to human colonization
4. University of Montreal researchers discover how drug prevents aging and cancer progression
5. University of Californias unofficial favorite sea slug poised to make a comeback
6. University of Maryland School of Medicine finds depression stems from miscommunication between brain cells
7. Columbia University Medical Center/NY-Presbyterian experts at AAN
8. Eurofins MWG Operon and Queen Mary, University Of London commence genome sequencing analysis of Ash
9. University of Maryland School of Medicine discovers adaptations to explain strategies for survival on Mars
10. University of Miami geologists to address the mystery of an evolution gap in reef corals
11. University of Illinois researchers develop AFM-IR for nanometer scale chemical identification
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/18/2015)... new scientific discoveries deepen our understanding of how cancer ... challenges in better using that knowledge to guide treatment ... children continue to survive pediatric cancer, that counseling may ... John M. Maris, M.D ., a pediatric oncologist ... --> John M. Maris, M.D ., ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... , November 17, 2015 Paris ...   --> Paris from 17 th ... DERMALOG, the biometrics innovation leader, has invented the first combined ... on the same scanning surface. Until now two different scanners ... one scanner can capture both on the same surface. ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... -- Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. Dick W. ... --> --> Mr. Boyce ... at TPG Capital, one of the largest global investment ... revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating Group, which ... 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, he served ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: HALO ) will be ... York on Wednesday, December 2 at 9:30 a.m. ET/6:30 ... CEO, will provide a corporate overview. th Annual ... 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT . Jim Mazzola , ... corporate overview. --> th Annual Oppenheimer Healthcare Conference ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... IIROC on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms ... there are no corporate developments that would cause the ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris ... . --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... , ... The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), led by its Executive Council, ... Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person View (FPV) racing community. , FPV racing has ... type of racing and several new model aviation pilots have joined the community because ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris ... today that the remaining 11,000 post-share consolidation (or ... Warrants (the "Series B Warrants") subject to the ... on November 23, 2015, which will result in ... giving effect to the issuance of such shares, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: