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Oil-eating bacteria Clean Spills in Gulf

Posted by JohnD on Jul 29, 2010 | 1 Comment

Oil-eating bacteria can be used to clean the oil spill which spreads around the thousands of miles of the Gulf of Mexico. Oil eating bacteria is Aerobic bacteria that scientifically termed as pseudomonas putida. Oil eating bacteria is mainly used to clean oil spills, but that could be expected very harmful to humans and animals.

Oil eating bacteria is relied on by some to crash toxic materials into carbon dioxide. Different fraction of the agricultural industry is relied on these bacteria to clean harmful chemicals that live in the soil.

Lastly, BP capped the biggest oil spill in U.S. history. So, not more oil has washed up on the sandy beaches and marshes along the Louisiana beach. In the Gulf, small cleaning army has managed to skim up a small part of the millions of gallons of oil spilling out in the 100 days while the Deepwater Horizon rig went up in flames.

Scientists have tried for decades to follow genetic modifications that might improve these microbes’ capacity to eat oil spills, whether on land or sea. Microbiologist Ronald Atlas of the University of Louisville notes, Craig Venter forecasted an application last week during the presentation of the world’s first synthetic cell, and one of the first patents on a genetically engineered organism was a hydrocarbon-eating microbe. But that time no signed of such organisms put to work outside the lab. That time Jay Grimes, a microbiologist of the University of Southern Mississippi says, “Microbes are available now but they are not effective for the most part.” Man-made microbes are not more effective than naturally occurring ones at utilizing hydrocarbons.

Edward Bouwer, professor of environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins University explains, “Some of the oil evaporates.” That’s especially true for the more toxic components of oil, which tend to be very volatile, he says.

Oil-eating bacteria Clean Spills in Gulf

A scientist with the environmental group Oceana, Jeffrey W. Short told the New York Times that as much as 40 percent of the oil might have evaporated when it reached the surface. High winds from two recent storms may have speeded the evaporation process.

In the skimming operations, there were over 4,000 boats involved. Up to now, those cleaning crews may have picked up a small fraction of the oil which is not odd. During the previous oil spills, crews could only sweep up a small amount of oil. Cornell University ecologist Robert Howarth, who worked on the Exxon Valdez spill, says “It’s very unusual to get more than 1 or 2 percent.” Skimming operations will carry on in the Gulf for several weeks.

Oil-eating bacteria Clean Spills in Gulf

On the ocean floor, some of the oil has sunk into the dregs. According to researchers, where the spill could do the most damage. However, according to Wednesday’s New York Times report, “federal scientists (have determined) the oil (is) primarily sitting in the water column and not on the sea floor.”

Some researchers believe that the oil has been destroyed by microbes. The past spills defines that the lion’s share of the cleanup work is done by nature in the form of oil-eating bacteria and fungi. For the growth and reproduction, the microbes break down the hydrocarbons in oil to use as fuel. A bit of oil in the water acts as a feeding frenzy for the exponential growth of microbial population.

Howarth says there are enough microbes in the ocean to consume half of any oil spilled in a month or two. From the Arctic to Antarctica, microbes have been found in every ocean of the world, but the procedure may happen more rapidly in the Gulf than in other oceans.

Oil-eating bacteria Clean Spills in Gulf

Microbes grow faster in the warmer water of the Gulf than they do in, say, the cool waters off Alaska, where the Exxon Valdez spill occurred.

The Gulf is hardly spotless. Oil naturally leaked into the water even before humans started drilling for oil in the Gulf. Thus, a rich collection of petroleum-loving microbes was evolved in the Gulf and ready to pounce on any new spill. Samantha Joye, microbial geochemist at the University of Georgia observes that the microbes are clever and tough. Joye has revealed that oxygen levels in parts of the Gulf contaminated with oil have dropped. Microbes require oxygen to eat the petroleum, that’s indicate that the microbes are tough at work.

The controversial dispersant used to disintegrate the oil as it flowed from the deep-sea well which may have helped the microbes do their work. Microbes can simply eat small drops of oil than big ones. This is shown that the microbes like to munch on the dispersant as well.

The risk of oil spilling remains till the well is permanently capped. Tar balls continue to clean up on beaches.

Gulf oil spill-gutsy solution restores environment video from Youtube:

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1 comment

  1. bert says:

    I repersent a company that produces the oly floatable bioremediation product avalible (microbes) they are very effective at eating any hydro carbon known.So far no one involved with the oil spill has returned our calls and e mails. the product is very good for cleaning marshes. the microbes will not harm anything but hydro carbons. the product turns oil into fish food and promets groth of grasses

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