Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny Gulf Sea Creature Could Shed Light on Oil Spill’s Impact

30.08.2010
A University of Alabama molecular biologist will soon bring dozens of tiny, transparent animals that live in Gulf Coast waters back to his campus laboratory as part of an effort to better understand the oil spill’s long-term impact on the coastal environment and creatures living there.

The National Science Foundation awarded Dr. Matthew Jenny, assistant professor of biological sciences at UA, a research grant for the project focusing on sea anemones, small animals related to the corals that build ocean reefs.

Jenny, working in collaboration with researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will collect and preserve anemones pulled from coastal waters from Alabama to Louisiana.

“We will also bring back live specimens and maintain them in clean seawater to allow them to recover from the oil exposure,” Jenny said.

During the anemones’ recovery, the researchers will compare the live specimens to those preserved at the time of collection to see how the two groups’ functions and vital processes differ, as well as how they differ molecularly.

Jenny and his primary collaborator, Dr. Ann Tarrant, at Woods Hole, proposed using a specific kind of anemone, known by scientists as Nematostella vectensis, in part because its entire genome, or its total genetic content, has been sequenced.

This helps make it a useful model from which to learn and draw conclusions applicable to other organisms.

Following the late April explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, millions of gallons of oil have poured into Gulf waters.

As microbes worked to naturally break down both the oil and the chemical dispersant added during containment efforts, this likely lowered the oxygen levels in Gulf waters, researchers say, further stressing sea life.

The UA project seeks to measure the extent of impact of the combined stressors of oil exposure and low oxygen, as well.

Using molecular techniques, Jenny and his collaborators will determine which genes in the anemones collected from oil-exposed sites have been affected and how this impacts various functions, including the animal’s ability to store energy and reproduce.

These results will be compared to complementary laboratory experiments where the one-inch-long anemones have been fed Artemia larvae contaminated with oil and dispersant. These larvae are microscopic, shrimp-like animals, raised in the laboratory within various concentrations of oil with or without dispersant.

These laboratory studies will assist researchers in determining if dispersant enhances the exposure to oil within food webs.

“The results of these experiments will provide insight into the different molecular and cellular processes that are used to protect the organism from combinations of stressors that are associated with the oil spill and exposure to oil or dispersed oil,” the researchers wrote in their grant application’s project summary.

The grant’s approximate $110,000 in funding is one of the NSF’s Rapid Response Research Grants which fund quick-response research on natural disasters or similar unanticipated events.

Results from this project, in combination with various other research efforts, are expected to assist scientists in predicting the long-term impact of the oil spill, and future disasters, on organisms and their environments.

Portions of the grant will also fund the training of two UA doctoral students in various scientific techniques used during the project.

CONTACT: Chris Bryant, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8323, cbryant@ur.ua.edu
SOURCE: Dr. Matthew Jenny, 205/348-8225, mjjenny@bama.ua.edu

Chris Bryant | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ua.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Bare bones: Making bones transparent

27.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions

27.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future

27.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>