"It is called dynamic auto-inoculation. Parcels of water move over the ruptured well, picking up hydrocarbons. When these parcels come back around and cross back over the well, the bacteria have already been activated, are more abundant than before, and degrade hydrocarbons far more quickly," says David Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara, speaking today at the 111th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.
Valentine has been studying microbial communities and the fate of chemicals 4000 feet below the surface from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill since June of 2010. Valentine and his colleagues at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Rijeka in Croatia, and the Naval Research Laboratory recently developed a computer simulation by coupling the Naval Research Laboratory's physical oceanographic model with their own discoveries and knowledge of the microbes responsible for breaking down the chemicals.
"We took the physical model of the deep Gulf of Mexico, added the hydrocarbons and bacteria, set reasonable guidelines for metabolism, and let them eat starting at day 1 of the spill," says Valentine.
To confirm that the model was providing them with an accurate picture of what had happened they compared the model to spot measurements they and others had previously made in the Gulf.
"The model predicts the kinds of distributions observed at different times and locations. The assumptions that went into the model appear to be reasonable," says Valentine.
The most interesting observation they found using the model was dynamic auto-inoculation. Many parcels of water circulated in and out of the source area. Each iteration allowed the bacterial populations to increase in number and degrade the chemicals more rapidly.
"The more recirculation you have, the more quickly the hydrocarbons will be consumed," says Valentine. "We have developed a model that combines the large-scale movement of the water with the metabolism of the microbes. From that we are observing a phenomenon that molded the distribution of the bacteria over time and space, and that are consistent with real-world observations in the Gulf of Mexico."
A live interview with David Valentine will be webcast Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 12:00 noon CDT, over the ASM Live uStream channel (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/asm-live). Questions will be taken from the audience via chat room and Twitter.
Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Information Technology
11.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
11.12.2017 | Event News