Biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons at low temperature in the presence of the dispersant Corexit 9500.
Mar Pollut Bull. 2002 Aug;44(8):739-47. PMID: 12269476
Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 99775, USA.
Our study examined the effects of Corexit 9500 and sediment on microbial mineralization of specific aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons found in crude oil. We also measured gross mineralization of crude oil, dispersed crude oil and dispersant by a marine microbial consortium in the absence of sediment. When provided as carbon sources, our consortium mineralized Corexit 9500 the most rapidly, followed by fresh oil, and finally weathered oil or dispersed oil. However, mineralization in short term assays favored particular components of crude oil (2-methyl-naphthalene>dodecane>phenanthrene>hexadecane>pyrene) and was not affected by addition of nutrients or sediment (high sand, low organic carbon). Adding dispersant inhibited hexadecane and phenanthrene mineralization but did not affect dodecane and 2-methyl-naphthalene mineralization. Thus, the effect of dispersant on biodegradation of a specific hydrocarbon was not predictable by class. The results were consistent for both high and low oiling experiments and for both fresh and weathered oil. Overall, our results indicate that environmental use of Corexit 9500 could result in either increases or decreases in the toxicity of residual oil through selective microbial mineralization of hydrocarbons.