In case you mised this according to the “Science for Environment Policy” weekly news alerts for 12 February 2015 new research has found that bacteria taken from underground petroleum reserves could be used to effectively break down crude oil from spills at sea. The study measured the breakdown of crude oil components in simulated seawater by four bacterial strains that had been isolated from petroleum reservoirs, as well as by four genetically modified stains. For saturated hydrocarbons it was found after 21 days that for two reservoir – derived bacterial species the biodegradation reached rates of 99% compared with 31% and 47% for two GM strains. Conversely chemicals in other groups, such as the aromatic hydrocarbons, were degraded up to 94% by GM strains after 21 days, while reservoir – derived bacterial species degraded between 63% and 99%.
The findings raise the possibility of tailor-making organisms to clean up specific types of contamination. To access the whole article please click here.