Enhanced bioremediation of oil spills in the sea

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria are ubiquitous in the sea, including hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria that utilize hydrocarbons almost exclusively as carbon and energy sources. However, the rates at which they naturally degrade petroleum following an oil spill appear to be too slow to prevent oil from reaching the shore and causing environmental damage, as has been documented in the Exxon Valdez and Gulf of Mexico disasters. Unfortunately, there is, at present, no experimentally demonstrated methodology for accelerating the degradation of hydrocarbons in the sea. The rate-limiting factor for petroleum degradation in the sea is availability of nitrogen and phosphorus. Oleophilic fertilizers, such as Inipol EAP 22 and urea-formaldehyde polymers, have stimulated hydrocarbon degradation on shorelines but are less effective in open systems. We suggest uric acid as a potentially useful fertilizer enhancing bioremediation at sea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-194
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
StatePublished - Jun 2014


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