Oil Spill

Karthikeyan’s research uncovering a new oil-eating microbe wins top student award at Gulf oil spill conference

Pensacola Beach in the Florida Panhandle, one of the areas where oil washed ashore after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010. (Photo Courtesy: Smruthi Karthikeyan)

Ph.D. student Smruthi Karthikeyan has returned from a gathering of scientists studying the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill with the top award for student research.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Study sheds light on key role for ‘rare’ aquatic microbes in dealing with pollution, balancing ecosystems

School of Civil and Environmental Engineering researchers have found that bacteria present in only small numbers in freshwater systems contain key genes that help the broader microbial community respond to environmental changes such as pollution or oil spills. The team used water from Lake Lanier northeast of Atlanta to test how microbial communities respond to common organic compounds. (Photo Courtesy: PBT1981 via Wikimedia Commons)

Even bacteria found in small numbers in freshwater communities play an essential role in maintaining the ecosystem and responding to environmental changes, according to new work from researchers in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This “rare biosphere,” as they called it, carries important genes for breaking down organic pollutants, which can help the entire microbial community withstand environmental changes. Their study appeared March 3 in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Studying how one beach’s microbes broke down the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill could help speed up the process next time

When oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill first began washing ashore on Pensacola Municipal Beach in June 2010, populations of sensitive microorganisms, including those that capture sunlight or fix nitrogen from the air, began to decline. At the same time, organisms able to digest light components of the oil began to multiply, starting the process of converting the pollutant to carbon dioxide and biomass.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
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