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.

Related Articles


"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 December 22, 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 December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) Surfers in Russia's biggest port city on the Pacific Ocean, Vladivostok, were enjoying the sport on Saturday despite below freezing temperatures and icy cold waters. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
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