Biodegradation of Oil Slicks on the Marine Environment.
Final rept. 1 Jan 70-31 Aug 76,
RUTGERS - THE STATE UNIV NEW BRUNSWICK N J DEPT OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND MICROBIOLOGY
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The degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons by marine bacteria was studied with the ultimate aim of using this process in the cleanup of polluting oil. Hydrocarbon-utilizing marine bacteria were isolated and their growth requirements and metabolic pathways were studied. Enzymatic and regulatory mechanisms responsible for the recalcitrance or delayed utilization of certain hydrocarbons, e.g. polynuclear aromatics and highly branched iso-alkanes were identified. The abundance and distribution of hydrocarbon degrading bacteria was measured in New Jersey coastal waters. The limiting factors of oil biodegradation in the marine environment were studied. Apart of the nature of the oil itself, water temperature and mineral nutrients N, P, Fe were found to be the most important limiting factors. Given favorable water temperatures, the rate of oil biodegradation can be increased by an order of magnitude or more by supplying the above mineral nutrients to a floating oil slick in oil-soluble oleophilic form. This method of application prevents nutrient loss by dilution and does not trigger algal blooms. The patented procedure is considered to be a new cost-effective way to cleanup oceanic oil spills. Author
- Biological Oceanography
- Civil Engineering