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Study: Different dispersant surfactants help and hinder oil-degrading bacteria

from Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

Scientists studied the interactions of the oil-degrading bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis with oil across oil-water interfaces that had varying amounts of different surfactants. They found that not all surfactants aid the bacteria's natural oil degradation processes. The surfactant Tween 20 worked synergistically with the bacteria and increased the available oil interface, allowing for more bacterial growth and oil degradation. Other surfactants inhibited the bacteria’s adherence to oil, limiting its biodegradation capacity. They published their findings in Langmuir: Interaction of Alcanivorax borkumensis with a surfactant decorated oil–water interface. more

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