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Front Microbiol. 2012 Oct 11;3:357. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2012.00357. eCollection 2012.

Microbial Response to the MC-252 Oil and Corexit 9500 in the Gulf of Mexico.

Author information

1
Department of Ecology, Earth Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Berkeley, CA, USA.

Abstract

The Deepwater Horizon spill released over 4.1 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. In an effort to mitigate large oil slicks, the dispersant Corexit 9500 was sprayed onto surface slicks and injected directly at the wellhead at water depth of 1,500 m. Several research groups were involved in investigating the fate of the MC-252 oil using newly advanced molecular tools to elucidate microbial interactions with oil, gases, and dispersant. Microbial community analysis by different research groups revealed that hydrocarbon degrading bacteria belonging to Oceanospirillales, Colwellia, Cycloclasticus, Rhodobacterales, Pseudoalteromonas, and methylotrophs were found enriched in the contaminated water column. Presented here is a comprehensive overview of the ecogenomics of microbial degradation of MC-252 oil and gases in the water column and shorelines. We also present some insight into the fate of the dispersant Corexit 9500 that was added to aid in oil dispersion process. Our results show the dispersant was not toxic to the indigenous microbes at concentrations added, and different bacterial species isolated in the aftermath of the spill were able to degrade the various components of Corexit 9500 that included hydrocarbons, glycols, and dioctyl sulfosuccinate.

KEYWORDS:

Corexit 9500; Gulf of Mexico; MC-252; biodegradation; dispersant; hydrocarbon; oil

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