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Waves of Berkeley Lab responders deploy omics to track Deepwater Horizon cleanup microbes
Date:6/21/2012

ders that were present when we sampled early in the spill history. In later expeditions they found methane degraders or propane degraders suggesting that there was a succession in the community and their properties," she said.

Adding credence to their hypothesis are the results of a simulation Jansson and her colleagues reported in a separate study published May 23, 2012 in Environmental Microbiology. The researchers modeled the oil plume scenario using uncontaminated water from the Gulf that was supplemented with oil collected during the spill, and dispersants. The team employed DNA sequencing at the DOE JGI to monitor the composition of the microbial community that was responsible for breakdown of the hydrocarbons. The distribution of "flocs," clusters of microorganisms, oil, and oil degradation products were also studied with the help of Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source, a DOE Office of Science-supported facility that offers a beamline -- ALS Infrared Beamline 1.4 -- that produces infrared spectra ideal for studying living bacteria individually or in small groups. "The aim was to enrich natural deep sea bacteria from the Gulf of Mexico on oil in the laboratory so that we could study them," she said, "and the results were the same as what was seen in nature." In addition, they successfully cultivated an oil-degrading Colwellia bacterium from the oil enrichments that had sequence similarity to those reported from the oil plume.

However, as the Oceanospirillales microbe that was sequenced using single cell sequencing remained uncultivated, Jansson said that further studies such as those conducted in the second study will have to wait until an isolate can be obtained. In the meantime, one direction the researchers have taken is to conduct a metagenomic analysis of sediment samples collected near the oil rig both during and after the Deepwater Horizon spill and of sediment samples from natural oil seeps.

Jansson said that combini
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
924-296-5643
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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