Deep-Sea Oil Plume Enriches Indigenous Oil-Degrading Bacteria

MS 70A-3317, One Cyclotron Road, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 10/2010; 330(6001):204-8. DOI: 10.1126/science.1195979
Source: PubMed


The biological effects and expected fate of the vast amount of oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon blowout
are unknown owing to the depth and magnitude of this event. Here, we report that the dispersed hydrocarbon plume stimulated
deep-sea indigenous γ-Proteobacteria that are closely related to known petroleum degraders. Hydrocarbon-degrading genes coincided
with the concentration of various oil contaminants. Changes in hydrocarbon composition with distance from the source and incubation
experiments with environmental isolates demonstrated faster-than-expected hydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5°C. Based on
these results, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation of the oil plume in the deep-water column without substantial
oxygen drawdown.

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