Microbes in the Gulf have evolved to deal with oil spills

Aug 27, 2010

There's been a lot of talk recently about how quickly microbes in the Gulf have been gobbling up the spill oil.  Scientific American has a report on what researchers know about the microbes in the Gulf. Reporter David Biello reports "the microbes of the deep Gulf of Mexico were ready to handle an oil spill."

Microbes have apparently evolved to eat oil in the Gulf. One of the researchers in the article says "There's the equivalent of an Exxon-Valdez worth of oil going into the Gulf every year and that's been going on for millions of years. These microbes have evolved to take advantage of that and outcompete everybody else."

The Obama Administration has been criticized for painting too rosy of a picture of how much oil remained in the Gulf. A report in the Canada Free Press says the Obama Administration released the results of a NOAA report too early. The White House, naming the NOAA report, suggested that 75% of the oil spilled was essentially no longer a threat, but other research suggests otherwise.  John Rudolf has a blog post about the controversy over at the New York Times.