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August 24, 2010

Previously unknown microbe chowing down on deep/cold oil plume

Just when all the talking heads, politicians, and eco-scientists think they got their shit wire tight, along comes some unknown little critter who tosses a monkeywrench into their plans.

...Here, we report that the dispersed hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-sea indigenous {gamma}-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 demonstrate faster-than-expected hydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5C. Based on these results, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation of the oil plume in the deep-water column without substantial oxygen drawdown.
Remember all the hooey about oxygen depletion gonna kill off everything? Well OK, that was last month. The new reality is it ain't gonna happen that way.

Of course nature oozes oil out of the seabed all the time, and it only stands to reason some critter would have evolved over time that would take advantage of that food source. We were just never looking for them, and they just did their work for millions of years without a care in the world.


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posted by Purp at 04:05 PM

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