The use of microbes to clean up oil spills

Fact 1

For bioremediation to be effective, the right temperature, nutrients, and food also must be present. Proper conditions allow the right microbes to grow and multiply—and eat more contaminants

Fact 2

It may take a few months or even several years for microbes to clean up a site

Fact 3

Bioremediation has the advantage of using natural processes to clean up sites. Because it may not require as much equipment, labor, or energy as some cleanup methods
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Fact 4

Bioremediation has successfully cleaned up many polluted sites and has been selected or is being used at over 100 Superfund sites across the country
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Fact 5

Fortunately, microbes capable of breaking down nearly all of these compounds already exist. You can bet as soon as that oil started appearing on Earth, bacteria and archaea evolved ways to exploit it as an energy source. After countless billions of mutations and generations, a large, diverse community of microbes evolved. Each species targets one or a select few of the molecules, efficiently breaking them down, releasing energy.
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Fact 6

Some species are able to take their compound down to carbon dioxide and water. Other species simply break large molecules into smaller chunks that are in turn broken down by a different species. The process is slow but nearly 100% effective. So bioremediation is able to clean up these oil spills but not in a time frame that is acceptable to most environmentalists. Who has time to wait 1,000 years for nature's garbage men to take care of business? It's time to introduce another term.

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Fact 7

Sometimes, natural species are not fast enough or even able to break down certain compounds. But I mentioned earlier that microbes like bacteria, archaea and fungi are able to be genetically modified. So, through DNA manipulation, scientists should be able to engineer microbes that target resistant compounds or break down pollutants much faster than natural species.
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