Liu Z, Liu J. Evaluating bacterial community structures in oil collected from the sea surface and sediment in the northern Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. MicrobiologyOpen [Internet]. 2013;2 (3) :492-504. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Bacterial community structures were evaluated in oil samples using culture-independent pyrosequencing, including oil mousses collected on sea surface and salt marshes during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and oil deposited in sediments adjacent to the wellhead 1 year after the spill. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that Erythrobacter, Rhodovulum, Stappia, and Thalassospira ofAlphaproteobacteria were the prevailing groups in the oil mousses, which may relate to high temperatures and strong irradiance in surface Gulf waters. In the mousse collected from the leaves of Spartina alterniflora, Vibrio of Gammaproteobacteria represented 57% of the total operational taxonomic units, suggesting that this indigenous genus is particularly responsive to the oil contamination in salt marshes. The bacterial communities in oil-contaminated sediments were highly diversified. The relatively high abundance of theMethylococcus, Methylobacter, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, and Chlorofexi bacteria resembles those found in certain cold-seep sediments with gas hydrates. Bacterial communities in the overlying water of the oil-contaminated sediment were dominated byRalstonia of Betaproteobacteria, which can degrade small aromatics, and Saccharophagus degradans of Gammaproteobacteria, a cellulose degrader, suggesting that overlying water was affected by the oil-contaminated sediments, possibly due to the dissolution of small aromatics and biosurfactants produced during biodegradation. Overall, these results provided key information needed to evaluate oil degradation in the region and develop future bioremediation strategies.

Brandvik PJ, Johansen O, Leirvik F, Farooq U, Daling PS. Droplet breakup in subsurface oil releases- Part 1: Experimental study of droplet breakup and effectiveness of dispersant injection. Marine Pollution Bulletin [Internet]. 2013;73 (1) :319-326. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Size distribution of oil droplets formed in deep water oil and gas blowouts have strong impact on the fate of the oil in the environment. However, very limited data on droplet distributions from subsurface releases exist. The objective of this study has been to establish a laboratory facility to study droplet size versus release conditions (rates and nozzle diameters), oil properties and injection of dispersants (injection techniques and dispersant types). This paper presents this facility (6 m high, 3 m wide, containing 40 m3 of sea water) and introductory data. Injection of dispersant lowers the interfacial tension between oil and water and cause a significant reduction in droplet size. Most of this data show a good fit to existing Weber scaling equations. Some interesting deviations due to dispersant treatment are further analyzed and used to develop modified algorithms for predicting droplet sizes in a second paper (Johansen et al., 2013).

Almeda R, Wambaugh Z, Chao C, Wang Z, Liu Z, Buskey E. Effects of crude oil exposure on bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and survival of adult and larval stages of gelatinous zooplankton. PLoS One [Internet]. 2013;8 (10) :e74476. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Gelatinous zooplankton play an important role in marine food webs both as major consumers of metazooplankton and as prey of apex predators (e.g., tuna, sunfish, sea turtles). However, little is known about the effects of crude oil spills on these important components of planktonic communities. We determined the effects of Louisiana light sweet crude oil exposure on survival and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in adult stages of the scyphozoans Pelagia noctiluca and Aurelia aurita and the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi, and on survival of ephyra larvae of A. aurita and cydippid larvae of M. leidyi, in the laboratory. AdultP. noctiluca showed 100% mortality at oil concentration ≥20 µL L−1 after 16 h. In contrast, low or non-lethal effects were observed on adult stages of A. aurita and M. leidyi exposed at oil concentration ≤25 µL L−1 after 6 days. Survival of ephyra and cydippid larva decreased with increasing crude oil concentration and exposition time. The median lethal concentration (LC50) for ephyra larvae ranged from 14.41 to 0.15 µL L−1 after 1 and 3 days, respectively. LC50 for cydippid larvae ranged from 14.52 to 8.94 µL L−1 after 3 and 6 days, respectively. We observed selective bioaccumulation of chrysene, phenanthrene and pyrene in A. aurita and chrysene, pyrene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]anthracene in M. leidyi. Overall, our results indicate that (1) A. aurita and M. leidyi adults had a high tolerance to crude oil exposure compared to other zooplankton, whereas P. noctiluca was highly sensitive to crude oil, (2) larval stages of gelatinous zooplankton were more sensitive to crude oil than adult stages, and (3) some of the most toxic PAHs of crude oil can be bioaccumulated in gelatinous zooplankton and potentially be transferred up the food web and contaminate apex predators.

Almeda R, Wambaugh Z, Wang Z, Hyatt C, Liu Z, Buskey E. Interactions between zooplankton and crude oil: toxic effects and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PLoS One [Internet]. 2013;8 (6) :e67212. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We conducted ship-, shore- and laboratory-based crude oil exposure experiments to investigate (1) the effects of crude oil (Louisiana light sweet oil) on survival and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mesozooplankton communities, (2) the lethal effects of dispersant (Corexit 9500A) and dispersant-treated oil on mesozooplankton, (3) the influence of UVB radiation/sunlight exposure on the toxicity of dispersed crude oil to mesozooplankton, and (4) the role of marine protozoans on the sublethal effects of crude oil and in the bioaccumulation of PAHs in the copepod Acartia tonsa. Mortality of mesozooplankton increased with increasing oil concentration following a sigmoid model with a median lethal concentration of 32.4 µl L−1 in 16 h. At the ratio of dispersant to oil commonly used in the treatment of oil spills (i.e. 1∶20), dispersant (0.25 µl L−1) and dispersant- treated oil were 2.3 and 3.4 times more toxic, respectively, than crude oil alone (5 µl L−1) to mesozooplankton. UVB radiation increased the lethal effects of dispersed crude oil in mesozooplankton communities by 35%. We observed selective bioaccumulation of five PAHs, fluoranthene, phenanthrene, pyrene, chrysene and benzo[b]fluoranthene in both mesozooplankton communities and in the copepod A. tonsa. The presence of the protozoan Oxyrrhis marina reduced sublethal effects of oil on A. tonsa and was related to lower accumulations of PAHs in tissues and fecal pellets, suggesting that protozoa may be important in mitigating the harmful effects of crude oil exposure in copepods and the transfer of PAHs to higher trophic levels. Overall, our results indicate that the negative impact of oil spills on mesozooplankton may be increased by the use of chemical dispersant and UV radiation, but attenuated by crude oil-microbial food webs interactions, and that both mesozooplankton and protozoans may play an important role in fate of PAHs in marine environments.

Liu Z, Liu J, Zhu Q, Wu W. The weathering of oil after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: insights from the chemical composition of the oil from the sea surface, salt marshes and sediments. Environmental Research Letters [Internet]. 2012;7 (3) :035302. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The oil released during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill may have both short- and long-time impacts on the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. An understanding of how the composition and concentration of the oil are altered by weathering, including chemical, physical and biological processes, is needed to evaluate the oil toxicity and impact on the ecosystem in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This study examined petroleum hydrocarbons in oil mousse collected from the sea surface and salt marshes, and in oil deposited in sediments adjacent to the wellhead after the DWH oil spill. Oil mousses were collected at two stations (OSS and CT, located 130 and 85 km away from the wellhead, respectively) in May 2010, and two sediment samples from stations SG and SC, within 6 km of the wellhead, in May 2011. We also collected oil mousse from salt marshes at Marsh Point (MP), Mississippi, 186 km away from the wellhead in July 2010. In these samples, n-alkanes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkylated PAHs, BTEX (collective name of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and p-, m-, and o-xylenes), C3-benzenes and trace metals were measured to examine how the oil was altered chemically. The chemical analysis indicates that the oil mousses underwent different degrees of weathering with the pattern of OSS < CT < MP. This pattern is consistent with the projected oil mousse movement from the accident site to salt marshes. Also, the contents of trace metals Al, V, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Co, Cu, As and Pb in the oil mousse generally increased along the way to the salt marshes, indicating that these trace metals were perhaps aggregated into the oil mousse during the transport. Petroleum hydrocarbon data reveal that the oil deposited in sediments underwent only light to moderate degradation one year after the DWH oil spill, as supported by the presence of short-chained n-alkanes (C10–C 15), BTEX and C 3-benzenes. The weathering of oil in sediment may result from biological degradation and dissolution, evidenced by the preferential loss of mid-chained n-alkanes C16–C 27, lower ratios ofn-C 17/Pr and n-C 18/Ph , and preferential loss of PAHs relative to alkylated PAHs.