Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gulf currents primed bacteria to degrade oil spill

Date:
May 23, 2011
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
A new computer model of the Gulf of Mexico in the period after the 2010 oil spill provides insights into how underwater currents may have primed marine microorganisms to degrade the oil.

Oil washing on shore in Bay St. Louis, MS.
Credit: iStockphoto/Chad Purser

A new computer model of the Gulf of Mexico in the period after the 2010 oil spill provides insights into how underwater currents may have primed marine microorganisms to degrade the oil.

"It is called dynamic auto-inoculation. Parcels of water move over the ruptured well, picking up hydrocarbons. When these parcels come back around and cross back over the well, the bacteria have already been activated, are more abundant than before, and degrade hydrocarbons far more quickly," says David Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara, speaking May 22 at the 111th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

Valentine has been studying microbial communities and the fate of chemicals 4000 feet below the surface from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill since June of 2010. Valentine and his colleagues at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Rijeka in Croatia, and the Naval Research Laboratory recently developed a computer simulation by coupling the Naval Research Laboratory's physical oceanographic model with their own discoveries and knowledge of the microbes responsible for breaking down the chemicals.

"We took the physical model of the deep Gulf of Mexico, added the hydrocarbons and bacteria, set reasonable guidelines for metabolism, and let them eat starting at day 1 of the spill," says Valentine.

To confirm that the model was providing them with an accurate picture of what had happened they compared the model to spot measurements they and others had previously made in the Gulf.

"The model predicts the kinds of distributions observed at different times and locations. The assumptions that went into the model appear to be reasonable," says Valentine.

The most interesting observation they found using the model was dynamic auto-inoculation. Many parcels of water circulated in and out of the source area. Each iteration allowed the bacterial populations to increase in number and degrade the chemicals more rapidly.

"The more recirculation you have, the more quickly the hydrocarbons will be consumed," says Valentine. "We have developed a model that combines the large-scale movement of the water with the metabolism of the microbes. From that we are observing a phenomenon that molded the distribution of the bacteria over time and space, and that are consistent with real-world observations in the Gulf of Mexico."


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Gulf currents primed bacteria to degrade oil spill." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110522141623.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2011, May 23). Gulf currents primed bacteria to degrade oil spill. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110522141623.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Gulf currents primed bacteria to degrade oil spill." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110522141623.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Risk of Asteroid Hitting Earth Higher Than Thought, Study Shows

Reuters - US Online Video (Apr. 23, 2014) A group of space explorers say the chance of a city-obliterating asteroid striking Earth is higher than scientists previously believed. Deborah Gembara reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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