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Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil plume studied in great depths

Date:
August 26, 2010
Source:
University of Oklahoma
Summary:
A new technology -- GeoChip -- played a critical role in an intensive study of the dispersed oil plume that formed at a depth between 3,600 and 4,000 feet some 10 miles from BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

A University of Oklahoma technology -- GeoChip -- played a critical role in an intensive study of the dispersed oil plume that formed at a depth between 3,600 and 4,000 feet some 10 miles from BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

An OU research team led by Jizhong Zhou, director of the Institute for Environmental Genomics, developed the new generation GeoChip, which contributed to the findings of the study by simultaneously detecting more than 150,000 different functional genes for various microbial ecological and biogeochemical processes.

Using the GeoChip technology and another technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, scientists found that microbial activity, spearheaded by a new and unclassified species, has degraded virtually all of the oil to undetectable levels without a significant level of oxygen depletion.

GeoChip technology reveals a variety of genes/population involved in hydrocarbon degradation, which are significantly correlated with oil contaminants. These results indicate that there exists a potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil contaminants in the deep-sea, and that oil-degrading communities could play a significant role in controlling the ultimate fates of hydrocarbons in the Gulf.

The data from this study are the first ever from a deepwater dispersed oil plume. Results of this study are based on the analysis of more than 200 samples collected from 17 deepwater sites between May 25 and June 2, 2010. According to Terry Hazen, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory research team leader, the GeoChip analyses greatly enhanced the findings of the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oklahoma. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Hazen et al. Deep-Sea Oil Plume Enriches Indigenous Oil-Degrading Bacteria. Science, 2010; DOI: 10.1126/science.1195979

Cite This Page:

University of Oklahoma. "Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil plume studied in great depths." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113300.htm>.
University of Oklahoma. (2010, August 26). Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil plume studied in great depths. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113300.htm
University of Oklahoma. "Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil plume studied in great depths." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100826113300.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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