The most FAQs about microbes and oil spills

February 18th, 2011 - 5:19 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 18 (ANI): The American Academy of Microbiology has created a dataset of the most frequently asked questions concerning microbes and oil spills.

“Long before the Gulf oil spill microbes evolved the ability to degrade the complex hydrocarbon mixture we call petroleum. They were already present in the Gulf of Mexico and ready to attack the oil when the spill occurred,” said Ronald Atlas of the University of Louisville, a member of the steering committee.

The report entitled FAQ: Microbes and Oil Spills is a result of the deliberation of over 20 of the nation’s leading experts who came together for one day to develop clear answers to seven frequently asked questions regarding the role of microbes in the oil spill.

The questions considered by the report are:

What does it mean to say microbes can ‘clean up’ an oil spill?Where do the ‘oil-eating’ microbes come from?What do the microbes need in order to biodegrade oil and how long does it take?How do dispersants and nutrients affect oil biodegradation?Is it possible to engineer microbes so they work even better?What happens to the oil after the microbes degrade it?What happens to the microbes when the oil is all gone?

The FAQ series will be based on single-day meetings focused on specific questions after which a final report will be published in 2-3 months.

“The Academy FAQ reports explain complex microbiological problems in a timely, balanced format that is easily understandable by the public, the media, and policymakers,” said Stanley Maloy of San Diego State University who moderated the colloquium. (ANI)

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