A team of researchers from the University of Calgary, Canada, discovered bacteria able to break down diesel fuel and crude oil, opening up a potential solution to the environmental crisis caused by oil spills.
The bacteria that show hydrocarbon biodegradation potential “may represent key players in the response to Arctic marine oil spills,” says Casey Hubert, study co-author and Associate Professor of Geomicrobiology at the University of Calgary.
The bacteria – Paraperlucidibaca, Cycloclasticus, and Zhongshania – are found in the Labrador Sea, a section of the North Atlantic Ocean. For the study, the team of researchers simulated an oil spill in a bottle by putting in top-of-the-seabed sediments, artificial seawater, and diesel or crude oil. The mixture was chilled at 4°C to reproduce the Arctic conditions. The researchers also found that the bacteria’s hydrocarbon-eating capability was boosted once they were “fed” nitrogen and phosphorus, an encouraging development for this potential solution to clean up oil spills.