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May 16, 2010


More spin on the spill:

” ... like putting pedophiles in charge of an orphanage.” Ok choke, there is some right brain stuff going on here, but perhaps the you could polish up your use of literary device….

and why would BP, TO, and the others involved need rocket scientist dispatched from DC to solve this problem? The old adage of 'I'm Washington and I am here to help you' is the exact analogy, also believe me 'the check is in the mail'

I asked Dr. Joye in an email to please keep me posted on the findings of the voyages of the Pelican. Her fields of interest are ideal for research into these matters.

I am very interested in this vast underwater oil plume, which strikes be as being somewhat implausible with the propensity of oil to float.

How do they know there is an oil plume underwater? How were they able to measure it? Or is this another computer model at work?

(Don't get me started on computer models.)

Just what are the long and short term impacts of this amount of oil drifting around in this part of the ocean? Where does it all go? How do we know? What forms of life eat the oil? What eats the oil eaters?

Is this a huge poison cloud for all the creatures there, or has a big dinner bell gone off for countless bacteria and plankton? What if the oil spill leads to a fishing boom in the gulf? Will BP be entitled to a royalty?

I was also amused at the estimated rates of oil coming up. If true, BP has hit the jackpot.

Some more stuff on Dr. Joye.


Here's one letter abstract she coauthored:

Anaerobic oxidation of short-chain hydrocarbons by marine sulphate-reducing bacteria

Olaf Kniemeyer1,7, Florin Musat1, Stefan M. Sievert2, Katrin Knittel1, Heinz Wilkes3, Martin Blumenberg4, Walter Michaelis4, Arno Classen5, Carsten Bolm5, Samantha B. Joye6 & Friedrich Widdel1

Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Celsiusstraße 1, D-28359 Bremen, Germany
Biology Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02536, USA
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, D-14473 Potsdam, Germany
Institute of Biogeochemistry and Marine Chemistry, Bundesstraße 55, University of Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
Institute for Organic Chemistry, RWTH Aachen University, D-52056 Aachen, Germany
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-3636, USA
Present address: Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology, Hans Knöll Institute, D-07745 Jena, Germany.
Correspondence to: Friedrich Widdel1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to F.W. (Email: fwiddel@mpi-bremen.de).

Top of pageAbstract
The short-chain hydrocarbons ethane, propane and butane are constituents of natural gas. They are usually assumed to be of thermochemical origin1, but biological formation of ethane and propane has been also observed2. Microbial utilization of short-chain hydrocarbons has been shown in some aerobic species3, 4 but not in anaerobic species of bacteria. On the other hand, anaerobic utilization of short-chain hydrocarbons would in principle be expected because various anaerobic bacteria grow with higher homologues (≥C6)5. Indeed, chemical analyses of hydrocarbon-rich habitats with limited or no access of oxygen indicated in situ biodegradation of short-chain hydrocarbons6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Here we report the enrichment of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) with such capacity from marine hydrocarbon seep areas. Propane or n-butane as the sole growth substrate led to sediment-free sulphate-reducing enrichment cultures growing at 12, 28 or 60 °C. With ethane, a slower enrichment with residual sediment was obtained at 12 °C. Isolation experiments resulted in a mesophilic pure culture (strain BuS5) that used only propane and n-butane (methane, isobutane, alcohols or carboxylic acids did not support growth). Complete hydrocarbon oxidation to CO2 and the preferential oxidation of 12C-enriched alkanes were observed with strain BuS5 and other cultures. Metabolites of propane included iso- and n-propylsuccinate, indicating a subterminal as well as an unprecedented terminal alkane activation with involvement of fumarate. According to 16S ribosomal RNA analyses, strain BuS5 affiliates with Desulfosarcina/Desulfococcus, a cluster of widespread marine SRB. An enrichment culture with propane growing at 60 °C was dominated by Desulfotomaculum-like SRB. Our results suggest that diverse SRB are able to thrive in seep areas and gas reservoirs on propane and butane, thus altering the gas composition and contributing to sulphide production.

It would appear some of these creatures do not need oxygen to break down hydrocarbons.

Ahhh... oil as food. Fishing has boomed in the seven years following a spill typically and has been attributed to oil being food to lowest food chain organisms. A royalty! If I were BP's attorneys, I would argue for economic benefit if I am going to be liable for economic loss thereof.

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