• Open Access

Bioremediation of oil spills

An annotated selection of World Wide Web sites relevant to the topics in Microbial Biotechnology


  • Lawrence P. Wackett

    1. McKnight Professor, BioTechnology Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Microbes cleaning up Deepwater Horizon oil spill


This article provides a good overview of how naturally-occurring bacteria are ultimately the most important factor in the cleanup of oil spills. Human activity is largely to contain and to facilitate the degradation by the bacteria already present.

Microbes and oil spills: ASM


This report by the American Society for Microbiology is organized in the form of frequently asked questions about oil spills, and it provides answers. The answers come from a panel of scientists convened by the ASM.

How microbes manage oil spills


This site provides a brief primer on microbial degradation and oil spills.

Microbes consumed oil rapidly


In the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the oil disappeared more rapidly than predicted. This article discusses some of the studies investigating the underlying causes of this rapid biodegradation.

Oil spill is boon to bacteria


This article emphasizes the fact that certain bacteria consume oil hydrocarbons quite readily and that oil spills cause such strains to proliferate and metabolize to greater extents.

Bacteria consuming oil at different temperatures


In the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, there was a large difference in the surface and deep water temperatures. However, there were species of psychrophilic bacteria present that were highly efficient in metabolizing hydrocarbons.

Oil spills: Microbe Wiki


This page focuses on microbiological aspects of oil spills and oil remediation.

Bioremediation for marine oil spills


This Congressional report on marine spills is somewhat dated, but still provides useful background information regarding oil components and microbial degradation.

Bioremediation of oil: EPA


This Environmental Protection Agency factsheet provides information and references regarding oil spills.

Oil spill dispersants


This brochure provides excellent overview of chemical dispersants used in oil spills.

Oil spill fight turns to chemicals


This article discussed the large amount of chemical dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Oil dispersants and risk


This popular press article discusses the important topic of risk assessment regarding the use of chemical dispersants in oil spills. Some contend that dispersants should not be used, while others point to their ability to speed up natural oil biodegradation processes.

Oil spill dispersants: Nalco


This site discusses how chemical dispersants work.

The basics: Oil spill dispersants


This site discusses how chemical dispersants work and how they are deployed in situations such as large oil spills.