As per a study released on Tuesday by the researchers of California Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a new species of microbe found in the undersea waters of Gulf of Mexico is degrading oil faster at the deeper and colder depths.
Explaining about the new oil degrading microbe, lead author of the study, Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist with Berkeley Lab's Earth Sciences Division, said in a press statement,
"Our findings, which provide the first data ever on microbial activity from a deepwater dispersed oil plume, suggest that a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil plumes exists in the deep-sea.
"These findings also show that psychrophilic (cold temperature) oil-degrading microbial populations and their associated microbial communities play a significant role in controlling the ultimate fates and consequences of deep-sea oil plumes in the Gulf of Mexico.”
In addition to this new revelation, researchers also mentioned that the bacteria responsible for degrading oil so fast are a new species that lives in waters as cold as five degrees Celsius.
The study results are published in the online journal 'Science' and contradicts the study of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution that stated oil degradation will be much slower in colder depths of Gulf water.
Oil cleaning up
Not just the research studies by different groups but even government assessment earlier this month suggested that around 75 percent of oil has either been evaporated, skimmed or burned.
"Our findings, which provide the first data ever on microbial activity from a deepwater dispersed oil plume, suggest that a great potential for intrinsic bioremediation of oil plumes exists in the deep-sea,” said lead study author Terry Hazen.
Other than clean-up microbes, several researchers believe that one of the biggest accelerating factor in cleaning up the oil from Gulf waters could have been toxic chemical dispersant Corexit used by BP at the main source of the leak.
However, still there are some research teams, who are independently researching the oil spill in Gulf, believe that a lot needs to be done before coming to a final conclusion.
New study important
Alan Mearns, a senior scientist at the emergency response team of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, believes that the new study is important in understanding how much oil will be cleaned by the microbes and what will be left.
Mearns, went added that more research in this area is need while on the other hand the study could be "critical to the understanding of the fate of what remains in the Gulf. This study shows that microbes are quickly degrading some components of subsurface oil found in the deep ocean without creating hazardous dead zones."