Thursday 26 August 2021

Marine bacteria in Canadian Arctic biodegrade diesel and oil


Marine bacteria in the frigid waters of the Canadian Arctic are capable of biodegrading oil and diesel fuel. Genomic sequencing revealed unexpected potential for hydrocarbon bioremediation in lineages of bacteria including Paraperlucidibaca, Cycloclasticus, and Zhongshana.


The Labrador coast -- where the study took place -- is important for Indigenous peoples who rely on the ocean for food, and that unlike at lower latitudes, there's been a dearth of research on bioremediation this far north.



As climate change extends ice-free periods and increasing industrial activity takes place in the Arctic, it is important to understand the ways in which the Arctic marine microbiome will respond if there is an oil or fuel spill. This region remains vast and remote such that oil spill emergency response would be complicated and slow.


In the study, the investigators simulated oil spill remediation inside of bottles, by combining mud from the top few centimeters of seabed with artificial seawater, and with either diesel or crude oil, along with different nutrient amendments at different concentrations.


The experiments were performed at 4°C, to approximate the temperature in the Labrador Sea, and took place over several weeks.




Sean M. C. Murphy, MarĂ­a A. Bautista, Margaret A. Cramm, Casey R. J. Hubert. Biodegradation of diesel and crude oil by Labrador Sea cold adapted microbial communities. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2021; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00800-21


Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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