Skip to content

Petroleum biodegradation and oil spill bioremediation

by Ronald M. Atlas
Marine Pollution Bulletin ()
Get full text at journal


Hydrocarbon-utilizing microorganisms are ubiquitously distributed in the marine environment following oil spills. These microorganisms naturally biodegrade numerous contaminating petroleum hydrocarbons, thereby cleansing the oceans of oil pollutants. Bioremediation, which is accomplished by adding exogenous microbial populations or stimulating indigenous ones, attempts to raise the rates of degradation found naturally to significantly higher rates. Seeding with oil degraders has not been demonstrated to be effective, but addition of nitrogenous fertilizers has been shown to increase rates of petroleum biodegradation. In the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, the largest and most thoroughly studied application of bioremediation, the application of fertilizer (slow release or oleophilic) increased rates of biodegradation 3–5 times. Because of the patchiness of oil, an internally conserved compound, hopane, was critical for demonstrating the efficacy of bioremediation. Multiple regression models showed that the effectiveness of bioremediation depended upon the amount of nitrogen delivered, the concentration of oil, and time.

Cite this document (BETA)

Readership Statistics

253 Readers on Mendeley
by Discipline
42% Agricultural and Biological Sciences
24% Environmental Science
10% Engineering
by Academic Status
25% Student > Ph. D. Student
21% Student > Bachelor
16% Student > Master
by Country
3% United States
2% Brazil
1% United Kingdom

Sign up today - FREE

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research. Learn more

  • All your research in one place
  • Add and import papers easily
  • Access it anywhere, anytime

Start using Mendeley in seconds!

Sign up & Download

Already have an account? Sign in