Microbes clean up Oceans


The Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010 caused the largest accidental oil spill in history, resulting in an environmental disaster. Scientists have since explored how natural sea-living bacteria can aid in ocean clean-up efforts. The European project Kill-Spill (completed in 2018) investigates methods to enhance the efficiency of oil-eating bacteria. Researchers aim to accelerate the degradation of oil slicks by developing biodegradable dispersants and diagnostic kits. This could potentially reduce clean-up time from years to mere weeks.

Beyond oil spills, plastic pollution poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems. Experts at the University of Bologna, focus on identifying microbes capable of degrading various types of plastic. The researchers studied plastic-contaminated environments across Europe and isolated over 30 microorganisms with the potential to decompose plastic waste.

While microbes can help reduce environmental damage, they are only part of the solution. Effective clean-up also requires concerted human efforts to reduce plastic production and minimize oil spills, emphasizing the importance of sustainable practices in preserving ocean health.


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