Marine bacteria can biodegrade oil and diesel in Arctic waters

A Canadian study has found that marine bacteria are capable of biodegrading oil and diesel even in frigid Arctic waters. The study, “Biodegradation of diesel and crude oil by Labrador Sea cold adapted microbial communities,” published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, is important because there has been little research done on bioremediation of oil spills in very cold waters.

“Most of the studies that look at oil-eating bacteria are from lower latitudes,” said Dr. Casey Hubert, associate professor of geomicrobiology at the University of Calgary and co-author of the study, in an interview with CTV News.

The study also found that some groups of bacteria not previously known to be capable of oil degradation can in fact carry out the process.

Researchers discovered, as well, that the addition of nutrients, including nitrogen and phosphorous, enhances the biodegradation process.

“Based on the study,” said Hubert, “we’re optimistic that there are indeed microbial populations in the Labrador Sea that would respond” in the case of an oil spill.

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
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