Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bacteria rush in to gobble up oil plumes from Deepwater

Researchers have discovered a large contingent of silent partners in the Deepwater oil spill cleanup—bacteria. Two samples of a deep-sea oil plume show that a high number of microbes have populated the oily area and are hacking away at the hydrocarbon concentration.

The bacteria also seem to be using relatively little oxygen to metabolize parts of the oil, minimizing their own environmental impact.

One doesn't have to agree about how well the containment or clean-up efforts were handled to note that large, complex systems sometimes can heal themselves rather well, despite our human failures.

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