Caitlyn Guice, a junior chemistry major from Prairieville, has received a $2,300 Louisiana Sea Grant Undergraduate Research Opportunities Grant to study the ability of the clam to remove hydrocarbon pollutants from natural water – like the oil that polluted the Gulf of Mexico last summer. She will be working under her faculty mentor, Phillip Voegel, assistant professor of chemistry.
The research is an outgrowth of the work that Voegel and Guice performed last summer when they analyzed water samples from the lakes as well as the clams themselves to determine if they absorbed any oil. In the wake of the BP oil spill, they and several other Southeastern scientists performed a number of studies, evaluating water quality, assessing the health of several species of plants and animals, and conducting visual surveillance of the wetlands for oil contamination.
Voegel explained that clams are bottom-dwelling filter feeders, obtaining nutrients by filtering the water around them. Although a food source for a number of aquatic species such as drum fish and crabs, the Rangia clams are generally small and not typically eaten by humans in the United States.
“As filter feeders, these clams help to maintain water clarity and quality,” said Guice. “We began studying them last summer as a possible marker for water contamination by the oil spill because they can concentrate hydrocarbons in their flesh.”
The scientists’ thinking then turned to the possibility of the clams serving as a natural cleaning mechanism of waters polluted by oil or other possible contaminants.
“Looking at bioconcentration of hydrocarbons by shellfish in this manner is a complete shift in thinking from the typical focus on food safety,” said Voegel. “Successful completion of this project will provide new knowledge on the abilities of the Rangia clam to concentrate pollutants from the water and determine if and under what environmental conditions, this ability could be applied to the bioremediation of oil-contaminated sites.”
He envisions the possibility of moving large caged pallets of the clams into oil-affected waters to assist in the collection of oil. The cage would prevent other species that feed on the claims from getting to them.
“We wouldn’t want them entering the food chain,” he said.
Guice will be looking at the effects of various environmental factors, such as the salinity levels of water, on the process of oil bioconcentration in the clams.
“Most of my work will focus on lab studies with clams grown at varied salinity and with different levels of oil pollutants,” Guice explained. “Then, over time, I’ll test the amounts of oil remaining in the water to determine how well the clams absorb the pollutants.”
Voegel said the information obtained in the study could lead to environmentally friendly methods that would use clams to clean lakes and wetlands that have been contaminated by oil. Of course, that would require further studies, he emphasized.
“It is exciting to consider the use of existing biological resources that could help alleviate the damage that occurs when petroleum products are accidentally released into the environment,” he said. “It’s an exciting concept.”
Guice anticipates completing the project by December 2011.
NOTE: Photo available at www.selu.edu
CUTLINE: Southeastern Louisiana University chemistry student Caitlyn Guice of Prairieville and Phillip Voegel, assistant professor of analytical and environmental chemistry, check the concentration of hydrocarbons in water collected from nearby lakes. The two are studying the possibility of using native clams to serve as natural cleaning mechanisms for oil spills.
Available online at www.selu.edu/news_media/news_releases
Rene Abadie | Newswise Science News
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.
The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
23.03.2018 | Event News
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy