Microbes Gobbling Gulf Oil

Newly discovered species may have consumed plume
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2010 4:59 AM CDT
Updated Aug 25, 2010 5:46 AM CDT
Microbes Gobbling Gulf Oil
Microbes degrade oil, indicated by the circle of dashes, in the deepwater plume from the BP oil spill in the Gulf, as documented in a study by Berkeley Lab researchers.    (AP Photo/Science/AAAS)

The latest take on the oil plume left behind by the Deepwater Horizon disaster: It's vanished, thanks to the luckiest microbe species on Earth. Researchers say that the newly discovered species, one of several that eats oil, multiplied rapidly after the spill and have dominated the natural clean-up in the Gulf of Mexico, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The scientists say they're finding plenty of the bacteria but no oil in the Gulf. They believe the microbes have efficiently consumed the oil plume from the leak and could be a valuable tool to deal with future oil spills. The study contradicts one released last week which predicted that a 22-mile plume of oil from the disaster would persist for months. The scientists behind that study believe that instead of being eaten by bacteria, the plume may have drifted hundreds of miles away from the Gulf.
(More Gulf oil spill stories.)

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