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Interdisciplinary Seminar: Jessica Boulton
April 20, 2020 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
The UNC-CH Department of Marine Sciences and UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) presents the interdisciplinary seminar of graduate student, Jessica Boulton. This event will be held on Monday, April 20th, at 12:30 pm. This event will be held ONLINE ONLY and it will be available online via Zoom (Meeting ID: 291-853-980).
Seminar Title: Bioremediation: Should we use bacteria to clean up oil spills?
Abstract: Oil spills pose a significant threat to marine ecosystems. Large oil spills can kill or harm a variety of marine species, including commercially important fisheries, and the effects can persist years to several decades after the initial spill. Finding ways to safely and quickly remove spilled oil from the ocean is therefore a priority. While several conventional methods of oil cleanup exist, bacterial bioremediation has been suggested as a safer, more environmentally friendly alternative. This seminar will discuss oil spills in the ocean, the theory behind bacterial bioremediation, the factors influencing its effectiveness in oil spills, and cases in which bioremediation has been used in the past. Bacteria with the ability to consume oil hydrocarbons occur in the marine environment in large numbers, but the rate of in-situ microbial oil degradation is relatively slow. The goal of bacterial oil bioremediation is to augment or speed up these natural processes, by adding either specialized bacteria, limited growth nutrients, and/or chemical dispersants. While bacterial bioremediation has been used extensively in past oil spills, environmental conditions such as temperature, nitrogen concentrations, oxygen concentrations, the chemical makeup of the spilled oil, and the local microbial community all influence the extent to which bacteria can degrade spilled oil.