Bioremediation

Sean Chamberlin seachild at EARTHLINK.NET
Sat Dec 3 13:34:17 EST 1994


In a recent posting Ian Sanderson writes:

>I have chosen to work with bioremediation, and will probably work with
>>bioremediation of oil spills.

To my knowledge, there are only two cases where bioremediation of oil
spills has been tried.  Quite a bit of information (and hype) has been
published by Exxon.  Applications of high nitrogen fertilizers appeared to
accelerate degradation of crude oil on the beaches, although the data are
questionable and the results ambiguous.  The other case concerns
application of oil-degrading bacteria to the Mega Borg Spill in Galveston
Bay.  Results were published by the Texas Water Commission.  This study was
inconclusive except that there is no clearcut evidence that bioremediation
is effective for water-borne spills.

>The question I have from anyone out there is :this:
>        Are there are any articles or journals you could suggest where I could
>>find the most recent information about what has already been done in this
>>subject area?

There is lots of good, recent information on bioremediation, both in the
trade journals and the scientific literature.  Probably the best review in
the form of a book is "In situ Bioremediation: When does it work?"
published 1993 by the National Research Council (National Academy Press).
There is also a substantial amount of information available from the EPA,
NTIS and DOE.


>        From what research I have done, I have determined that there have been
>>no uses of genetically modified organisms outside of laboratory
>>conditions...is this true?  If this is the case would a proposal suggesting a
>>battery of tests for a particular microorganism that has been gentetically
>>modified be best.  Thanks for any help you can give...
>--

GEMS (Genetically Engineered Microorganisms) have not, to my knowledge,
been applied in the field.  The most interesting work in this field (in my
biased opinion) is the introduction of plasmids (pieces of DNA each coding
for a specific enzyme) into natural bacterial populations via "vectors",
"neutral" bacteria which carry the plasmid and "pass it on" (via
conjugation?) to other bacteria.  In a recent paper, the introduced
bacteria (containing the plasmid) were eliminated (because they couldn't
tolerate the environment) from the soil, but the plasmid showed up in and
was expressed by the natural population (in the safe confines of a lab!).
Anyway, I thought it was neat.

You should also know that the EPA has a bioremediation BBS with quite a lot
of information.

I'd be happy to post a list of my references on bioremediation and point
you towards the EPA publications.  Just let me know what would be helpful.

Good Luck!


seachild at earthlink.net              ~~            ~~            ~~
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Sean Chamberlin, Ph.D.     ~~~~         ~~~~           ~~~~            ~~~~
ECOBEACH
Redondo Beach, CA        "Cast your net wide and harvest all your desires"
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