Oil-Eating Microbes

Last week, David Biello, the associate editor at Scientific American, published a series of pictures of microbes that eat the oil from the gusher Macando 242. In fact, the microorganisms that could eat the oil (hydrocarbon) are common. As we can find, there are several kinds of microorganisms within the wastewater treatment plant. One of the most important indicators of the wastewater is BOD5, which represents the biochemical oxygen demand in 5 days. That is the amount of oxygen needed if all the hydrocarbons in the wastewater could be oxidized into carbon dioxide and water. Comparing to the industrial or municipal wastewater, the degradation of oil spill in Gulf of Mexico needs much more oxygen. Normally, the length of the chain of hydrocarbon determines the difficulty of its breakdown. Also, the benzene ring of the aromatic hydrocarbon is hard to deal with. In the slideshow, the author first introduced Alcanivorax borkumensis, a ubiquitous marine petroleum oil-degrading bacterium with an unusual physiology specialized for alkane metabolism. If you wanted to know more about the strain and the mechanisms, you can read the paperProteomic Insights into Metabolic Adaptations in Alcanivorax borkumensis Induced by Alkane Utilization. Then, the author talked about the Cycloclasticus, that could degrade the aromatic hydrocarbons by tapping them for energy. It is good to know more than 23 strains of Cycloclasticus native to the Gulf of Mexico have the ability. Scientists are trying to decode Cycloclasticus pugettii, a strain found in the waters of the Puget Sound and being dredged for here, in the hopes of improving its toxic avenger abilities. Early last year, a researcher from UK found that i aerobic conditions, benzene and toluene did not appear to affect community structure, but naphthalene stimulated the growth ofCycloclasticus spirillensus, a bacterium known to break down oil residues. At the end of this post, I would express my respect to Miyoshi, who reported the growth of a mould culture on n-alkanes, and discovered the metabolism of hydrocarbon by microorganisms.


3 Responses to Oil-Eating Microbes

  1. this was my first time that i have visited you article and it is awesome ..

  2. gift bag says:

    Wow, this was a really quality post. In theory I’ d like to write like this too – taking time and actual effort to make a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and in no way appear to get something done.

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