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.

Download full-text


Available from: Yvette Piceno, Sep 29, 2015
307 Reads
  • Source
    • "Petroleum hydrocarbons released under high-pressure undergo a series of interconnected physical and chemical processes that affect their fate and transport in the deep sea (Camilli et al., 2010; Kessler et al., 2011; Reddy et al., 2012). Following the direct injection of disperant (Corexit 9527A and 9500A) to the Macondo well head at a depth of 1544 meters (Hazen et al., 2010), a large oil plume persisted for months centered at approximately 1100 meters (m) depth, without substantial biodegradation (Camilli et al., 2010). Oil spewing from the wellhead encountered turbulent mixing and was emulsified as a result of its reduced buoyancy at depth and the application of dispersant (Fodrie & Heck Jr., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Cold-water corals serve as important foundation species by building complex habitat within deep-sea benthic communities. Little is known about the stress response of these foundation species yet they are increasingly exposed to anthropogenic disturbance as human industrial presence expands further into the deep sea. A recent prominent example is the Deepwater Horizon oil-spill disaster and ensuing clean-up efforts that employed chemical dispersants. This study examined the effects of bulk oil-water mixtures, water-accommodated oil fractions, the dispersant Corexit9500A®, and the combination of hydrocarbons and dispersants on three species of corals living near the spill site in the Gulf of Mexico between 500–1100 m depths: Paramuricea sp. B3, Callogorgia delta and Leiopathes glaberrima. Following short-term toxicological assays (0–96 h), all three coral species examined showed more severe health declines in response to dispersant alone (2.3–3.4 fold) and the oil-dispersant mixtures (1.1–4.4 fold) than in the oil-only treatments. Higher concentrations of dispersant alone and the oil-dispersant mixtures resulted in more severe health declines. C. delta exhibited somewhat less severe health declines than the other two species in response to oil and oil/dispersant mixture treatments, likely related to its increased abundance near natural hydrocarbon seeps. These experiments provide direct evidence for the toxicity of both oil and dispersant on deep-water corals, which should be taken into consideration in the development of strategies for intervention in future oil spills.
    Deep Sea Research Part II Topical Studies in Oceanography 04/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.dsr2.2015.02.028 · 2.19 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "However, Cd and Pb did not differ in toxicity with respect to polar phytoplankton (Arctic and Antarctic), although Hg exerted a toxic effect (Echeveste et al., 2014). Oil pollution exists in different degrees, originating from tank cleaning to massive ship wrecks or accidents on oil-producing platforms (Torres et al., 2008; Hazen et al., 2010). Oil slicks on sea surfaces could limit gas exchange through the air–sea interfaces and reduce light penetration into the water affecting phytoplankton photosynthesis (González et al., 2009; Huang et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Ocean acidification and pollution coexist to exert combined effects on the functions and services of marine ecosystems. Ocean acidification can increase the biotoxicity of heavy metals by altering their speciation and bioavailability. Marine pollutants, such as heavy metals and oils, could decrease the photosynthesis rate and increase the respiration rate of marine organisms as a result of biotoxicity and eutrophication, facilitating ocean acidification to varying degrees. Here we review the complex interactions between ocean acidification and pollution in the context of linkage of multiple stressors to marine ecosystems. The synthesized information shows that pollution-affected respiration acidifies coastal oceans more than the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide. Coastal regions are more vulnerable to the negative impact of ocean acidification due to large influxes of pollutants from terrestrial ecosystems. Ocean acidification and pollution facilitate each other, and thus coastal environmental protection from pollution has a large potential for mitigating acidification risk.
    Marine Pollution Bulletin 12/2014; 91(1). DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.12.001 · 2.99 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • ", in press; 3, Redmond and Valentine, 2012; 4, Hazen et al., 2010; 5, Mason et al., 2012; 6, Valentine et al., 2010; 7, Kessler et al., 2011b; 8, Dubinsky et al., 2013; 9, Mason et al., 2014b; 10, Kimes et al., 2013; 11, Liu and Liu, 2013. of oily hydrocarbons. Thus, with respect to future oil spills, it can reasonably be expected that the resident microbial communities will metabolize the more labile hydrocarbon components, while leaving behind the more recalcitrant materials (e.g., high molecular weight polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, resins, and asphaltic components). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Deepwater Horizon blowout, which occurred on April 20, 2010, resulted in an unprecedented oil spill. Despite a complex effort to cap the well, oil and gas spewed from the site until July 15, 2010. Although a large proportion of the hydrocarbons was depleted via natural processes and human intervention, a substantial portion of the oil remained unaccounted for and impacted multiple ecosystems throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The depth, duration and magnitude of this spill were unique, raising many questions and concerns regarding the fate of the hydrocarbons released. One major question was whether or not microbial communities would be capable of metabolizing the hydrocarbons, and if so, by what mechanisms and to what extent? In this review, we summarize the microbial response to the oil spill as described by studies performed during the past four years, providing an overview of the different responses associated with the water column, surface waters, deep-sea sediments, and coastal sands/sediments. Collectively, these studies provide evidence that the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was rapid and robust, displaying common attenuation mechanisms optimized for low molecular weight aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons. In contrast, the lack of evidence for the attenuation of more recalcitrant hydrocarbon components suggests that future work should focus on both the environmental impact and metabolic fate of recalcitrant compounds, such as oxygenated oil components.
    Frontiers in Microbiology 11/2014; 5:603. DOI:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00603 · 3.99 Impact Factor
Show more