Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Microbes In Mud Flats Clean Up Oil Spill Chemicals

Date:
April 5, 2009
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Micro-organisms occurring naturally in coastal mudflats have an essential role to play in cleaning up pollution by breaking down petrochemical residues. Research reveals essential differences in the speed of degradation of the chemicals depending on whether or not oxygen is present.

Oil slick on a shore.
Credit: iStockphoto

Micro-organisms occurring naturally in coastal mudflats have an essential role to play in cleaning up pollution by breaking down petrochemical residues.

Related Articles


Research by Dr Efe Aganbi and colleagues from the University of Essex, presented at the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Harrogate March 30, reveals essential differences in the speed of degradation of the chemicals depending on whether or not oxygen is present.

In aerobic conditions (where oxygen is present), benzene, toluene and naphthalene, which all occur in petroleum, were rapidly degraded by microbes. In the absence of oxygen degradation was slower and only toluene was significantly broken down. This means that in a healthy marine ecosystem where the water is oxygenated, petrochemical contamination can biodegraded by micro-organisms, but if the oxygen supply is depleted by pollution and other processes leading to the breakdown of organic matter in the soil, the contamination will persist.

While almost all known aromatic hydrocarbons (the petroleum breakdown products) are degraded with oxygen only a few can be completely broken down in the absence of oxygen. However, in a contaminated environment oxygen is quickly depleted and anaerobic breakdown (without oxygen) becomes an important mechanism for getting rid of contaminants

The scientists also investigated the impact of the three chemicals on the make-up of different estuarine microbial communities. Over time the types of micro-organisms changed as the compounds were degraded. In aerobic conditions, benzene and toluene did not appear to affect community structure but naphthalene stimulated the growth of Cycloclasticus spirillensus, a bacterium known to break down oil residues. These bacteria might be used as a natural way of cleaning up pollution.

"Our work shows that microbes are very versatile and can live on most types of chemicals" said Dr Aganbi, "More work is needed to identify bacteria in these mud sediments as little is known about the range of bacteria present. Estuaries are ideal locations for refineries and petrochemical facilities – it is essential that mudflats are preserved to provide a natural clean-up area for pollution."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Microbes In Mud Flats Clean Up Oil Spill Chemicals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205505.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2009, April 5). Microbes In Mud Flats Clean Up Oil Spill Chemicals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205505.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Microbes In Mud Flats Clean Up Oil Spill Chemicals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090329205505.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins