Dr. Helen White, Haverford College

Friday, April 19, 2013 at 1:10pm

Thompson Biology, 112 59 Lab Campus Dr, Williamstown, MA 01267

Dr. Helen White, Haverford College

"The impact of oil on deep-water ecosystems"

The Deepwater Horizon disaster released ~5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico impacting numerous ecosystems including deep-sea coral communities. Deep-sea corals are typically isolated from anthropogenic disturbances such as oil spills and the widespread signs of stress observed in corals at a depth of 1370 meters underscores the unprecedented nature of the spill. The quantity and composition of oil has been determined for corals and surrounding sediments that were exposed to oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and a preliminary examination of the microbial communities associated with these samples provides additional insight into the ability of resident microbes to metabolize oil. Findings from this research will enhance our understanding of intrinsic oil degradation in the environment and enable the development of molecular assays that will be able to rapidly monitor the progress of oil biodegradation in the aftermath of an oil spill.

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