News

Study IDs Oil-Degrading and Mucus-Producing Microbes Linked to Marine Oil Snow Formation

September 20, 2019

Scientists isolated bacteria from Gulf of Mexico surface waters and used them in microcosm experiments to identify those that simultaneously degrade oil and produce mucus-like materials (exopolymeric substances or EPS). Using 16S rRNA gene analysis, they identified Alteromonas and Thalassospira as the main bacteria species that produce EPS when consuming oil and/or dispersed oil. When the microbes consumed oil in the presence of Corexit, the EPS they produced had a higher protein-to-carbohydrate ratio (a 5- to 20-fold increase in protein) than oil-

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Grad Student Deng Investigates How Marine Microbes Move When Oil is Present

September 19, 2019

Oil-water interfaces, such as those formed by marine oil spills or natural ocean oil seeps, are teeming with bacterial activity. Some bacterial species in those interfaces form biofilms that help break up oil, which enhances biodegradation. The interfaces themselves can also significantly influence how bacteria behave, often trapping them or altering their natural movements.

Jiayi Deng tracks different

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Study Explains How Oil Spills Can Initiate Harmful Algal Blooms

August 20, 2019

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. 

Scientists conducted field and laboratory experiments using oil and Corexit dispersant to uncover the reasons harmful algal blooms, also known as Red Tides, can occur after an oil spill. They found that the presence of chemically-dispersed oil reduced the number of large protozoans (tintinnids and oligotrich ciliates that graze on dinoflagellates) which in turn was associated with an increase in bloom-forming dinoflagellates. The disruption in the predator-prey controls that normally function in plankton food webs could allow

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Study Shows How Copepods Can Change the Size Spectrum of Oil Droplets

April 16, 2019

 

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther and Stephanie Ellis

Scientists conducted laboratory experiments to investigate if copepod behavior can reshape the size frequency distribution of oil droplets. They observed that copepods directly changed it through the combined movement of their feeding and swimming appendages and by ingesting oil droplets and discharging undigested, smaller-sized oil drops. The animals’ actions created feeding

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Study Creates Microcosm That Mimics Bacteria Encountering Rising Oil Droplets

March 19, 2019

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther.

Scientists developed a platform at environmentally-relevant scales to advance the study of oil-water interface interactions, biofilm formation, and particle dispersion. Their techniques allow one to control the size, shape, and volume of oil micro-drops and then affix them onto a stable substrate where microbes can live and grow. The technology provides an unprecedented capability in investigating complex interactions of bacteria, cells, and interfaces and to study key microbial processes involved in remediation of environmental pollutants,

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Professor Joseph Katz (Johns Hopkins University)

Joseph Katz elected to the National Academy of Engineering

February 28, 2019

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) congratulates Dr. Joseph Katz on his election to the National Academy of Engineering 2019 class, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. A formal induction ceremony for the new class will be held during the academy’s annual meeting in October in Washington, D.C.

This

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Kaijun Lu

Like cracking a code of hieroglyphics, chemists decipher the previously secret structure of matter

September 26, 2018

By Sally Palmer

Several thousands of years ago, when the pharaohs ruled ancient Egypt, organic matter in the oceans like seagrass and by products of fish waste created during their time is just now breaking down and transferred back into the atmosphere.

Dissolved organic matter is one of the most stable sources of carbon there is and it can take several thousands of years to breakdown. Chemists at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute recently made a ground-breaking discovery about the shape and structure of this ancient type of carbon. In a

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Meredith Evans Seeley accepts the James D. Watkins Award for research excellence

Grad Student Seeley Investigates the Longevity of Toxic Oil Compounds in Coastal Environments

August 8, 2018

Oil is a complex mixture of chemicals with different degradation behaviors and toxicity levels. Understanding how the compounds in spilled oil, particularly toxic compounds, change with weathering is important to predicting oil’s persistence in the environment. Meredith Evans Seeleyanalyzed how oil compounds are preserved or removed over time in coastal systems that have different hydrographic activity levels. Her research will help

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Oil Plus Dispersants May Lead to More Red Tide Events

August 7, 2018

By Sally Palmer - The University of Texas Marine Science Institute

Harmful algal blooms, or red tides, can occur naturally, but new research indicates that after an oil spill, the application of dispersant may increase the chance of red tides. A new paper recently released in Environmental Science and Technologyprovides experimental evidence that oil and dispersant applications may open up a hole in the food web that toxic bloom-forming algae take the opportunity to fill.

When an oil spill occurs, they can disproportionally kill the single-

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