Rochester Science

University of Rochester study shows gulf bacteria helping to cleaning up BP Gulf oil spill

Researchers at the University of Rochester (U of R) and Texas A&M have fused together to unveil their discovery how over 200,000 tons of spilled oil and gas has disappeared from the Gulf of Mexico. All of which was removed over the course of only five months. Believe it or not, the answer is – Bacteria. This is immense news for two reasons: (1) of course, the fact that nature is giving us a lending hand in cleaning up this epidemic disaster. This catastrophe has affected, not only, ocean wildlife but has also upset businesses that are dependent on seafood. (2) A university right here in Rochester is responsible for making such a great discovery. This is something that should make any native feel proud.

To date, the oil spill has killed well into the thousands of wildlife. And those of which are only the animals visible to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – there is likely to be heaps more. This simple statement raised high alert for many businesses along the coast because they are dependent on the wildlife. Approximately 32 percent of the fishing comes from this coast, in fact. Therefore, this meant many layoffs took place and locals began to struggle. This also meant that the price of seafood skyrocketed, so no one made out positively on this deal.

There was no simple solution, unfortunately, and the government couldn’t put into perspective how long it would take to clean this up. The only sure fact was that it wasn’t going to be fixed any time soon.

That is, until now. With the determination of our local researchers, we have discovered the large positive effects the bacterium has to offer.

“A significant amount of the oil and gas that was released was retained within the ocean water more than one-half mile below the sea surface,” said co-author John Kessler, from the University of Rochester. “It appears that the hydrocarbon-eating bacteria did a good job of removing the majority of the material that was retained in these layers,”

With that said, we can now examine the bacteria further to find how much potential it really possesses. Who knows: there may be a way to utilize it for future oil spills. It’s apparent that this bacterium is not only effective but also extremely time-efficient. To reiterate, over 200,000 tons were gobbled up by this bacteria. So, it should be said with great ease that we need to look into this more and who better than our homegrown heroes at the U of R.