The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.

Using dispersants after oil spills: impacts on the composition and activity of microbial communities

  • Tuesday, 07 July 2015

UDispersants are globally and routinely applied as an emergency response to oil spills in marine ecosystems with the goal of chemically enhancing the dissolution of oil into water, which is assumed to stimulate microbially mediated oil biodegradation. However, little is known about how dispersants affect the composition of microbial communities or their biodegradation activities. The published findings are controversial, probably owing to variations in laboratory methods, the selected model organisms and the chemistry of different dispersant–oil mixtures. Here, we argue that an in-depth assessment of the impacts of dispersants on microorganisms is needed to evaluate the planning and use of dispersants during future responses to oil spills.

Ref: Kleindienst, S., Paul, J. H., Joye, S. B. Using dispersants after oil spills: impacts on the composition and activity of microbial communities, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 2015, 13, 388-396.

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