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Microbes to fight oil spillage in oceans: Indian scientists devise new technology

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    8th Dec, 2020


  • The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has developed an eco-friendly crude oil bioremediation mechanism technology using consortia of marine microbes wheat bran (WB) immobilized on agro-residue bacterial cells. 

What is oil spillage?

  • A surge in oil extraction through offshore drilling has resulted in the spillage of oil.
  • Industrial effluent discharge, waste burn-out, and other manmade disasters pollute the marine environment.
  • Oil spills have the potential to cause huge environmental damage: they end up accumulating in sub-surface sediments transferring the toxic organic materials to the marine food chain.

How the spillage can be treated?

  • Bioremediation is one of the processes to remove the impacts of spillage.
  • It can be defined as any process that uses microorganisms or their enzymes to remove and or neutralize contaminants within the environment (i.e., within soil and water) to their original condition.
  • Petroleum is a mixture of natural gas, condensate, and crude oil (viscous liquid mixture) consisting mainly of thousands of hydrocarbon compounds.
  • These hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria don’t depend on hydrocarbon for survival but have a metabolic mechanism where they use petroleum products as carbon and energy source and thus, help cleaning up oil spills. 
  • The complete breakdown and degradation of crude oil were achievable using wheat bran marine bacterial consortia immobilized on low-cost nontoxic agro-residues bacterial cells in an environmentally sustainable manner.

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