Microbes Eating Oil From Deepwater Disaster - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Microbes Eating Oil From Deepwater Disaster


BILOXI, MS. (WLOX) -Scientists at the USM Gulf Coast Research Lab are involved in testing to see how well micro organisms can actually absorb some of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Dr. Jay Grimes says this is nothing new, but now they want to know more about it. "For millions of years, bacteria have lived in the ocean, eating the oil if you will," Dr. Grimes said.

So, those microorganisms, bacteria , are having a feast right now feeding on the millions of gallons of oil from the Deepwater Horizon. They are using that oil to live on. That's good for us, because the more oil they eat, the less there is in the water. "There is both direct evidence and indirect evidence to show that they are decomposing that oil at the site," the USM Scientist said.

But there is so much to learn about this process, for instance, can it be improved so those microorganisms eat more of the oil. Dr. Grimes told us, that's what USM's research is looking into. "We are just going to study the process, see what we can do to possibly enhance the degradation process when it comes ashore, so we will not add any new micro organisms we are basically going to study what mother nature is doing."

Dr. Grimes was quick to add that these microorganisms, no matter how much oil they eat, won't get rid of it all. For instance, he said there are still traces of oil in Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez disaster 20 years ago.

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