Chapter 16 : The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation

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Bioremediation, stimulating the biodegradation of spilled oil, has proven to be a safe and effective paradigm for dealing with marine oil spills. This chapter focuses on the microbiology that underpins bioremediation and addresses whether these new tools will allow insights that can substantially increase the efficacy of bioremediation treatments in the future. The most important requirement seems to be that nitrogen be available at the oil-water interface for long enough that the oil-degrading microbes become well established; the precise form of the nitrogen in the fertilizer seems to be of secondary importance. Modern molecular diagnostic tools are providing new insights into the microbial responses to an oil spill and bioremediation treatments. In most environments, a significant oil spill provides a substantial input of hydrocarbons into a system that was previously starved of such substrates. It is also important to bear in mind that the oil-degrading microbes consuming the oil are part of an ecosystem with organisms that compete for nutrients. Photosynthetic organisms also have an essentially unlimited supply of carbon in the form of CO and are typically limited by the supply of nitrogen and phosphorus, and the oil-degrading microbes will themselves become the foundation for predatory organisms. Understanding and controlling these interactions in an environmentally responsible way will also likely make bioremediation more effective.

Citation: Prince R. 2005. The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation, p 317-335. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch16

Key Concept Ranking

Microbial Ecology
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
Gram-Negative Bacteria
16s rRNA Sequencing
Horizontal Gene Transfer
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Generic image for table

Genera of Bacteria able to grow using hydrocarbons as a sole source of carbon and energy

Citation: Prince R. 2005. The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation, p 317-335. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch16
Generic image for table

Cyanobacterial genera able to degrade hydrocarbons

Citation: Prince R. 2005. The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation, p 317-335. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch16
Generic image for table

Fungal genera able to degrade hydrocarbons

Citation: Prince R. 2005. The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation, p 317-335. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch16
Generic image for table

Algal and diatom genera able to degrade hydrocarbons

Citation: Prince R. 2005. The Microbiology of Marine Oil Spill Bioremediation, p 317-335. In Ollivier B, Magot M (ed), Petroleum Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817589.ch16

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