Oil-munching bacteria may determine Gulf spill's environmental impact

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Washington, Aug 12 (ANI): The fate of Gulf of Mexico depends on microscopic bacteria that consume oil and other hydrocarbons by breaking them down, says a new study.

These oil-eating bacteria could be a boon for the Gulf after the disastrous oil spill. But, their activity poses some risks too, particularly in the deep ocean.

The oil acts as a huge source of food and could produce bacteria "blooms," or massive population explosions. As the blooms die and decay, they remove oxygen from the Gulf water, jeopardizing the health of fish and other aquatic animals.

Research is underway to shed light on the bacteria's effects. According to the article, the oxygen depletion so far is not as serious as the Gulf of Mexico's infamous "dead zone," an 8,000 square mile area - about the size of New Jersey.

The article is published in the current issue of Chemical and Engineering News (C and EN). (ANI)

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