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A Decade-Long Study on Impact, Recovery, and Resilience in Louisiana Salt Marshes: The Evolution of the Oil Transformation Compounds and Plant-Soil-Microbial Responses to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Implementing Organization

Florida State University


DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)

Funding Program

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative GoMRI Grant Program


Project Category


Project Actions

Environmental Research

Targeted Resources


Project Description

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill exposed the nation’s largest and most productive wetland-estuary, the Mississippi River Delta coastal wetland ecosystem, to an unprecedented level of oil contamination and potential damage. The coastal marshes support a host of environmental and economic services that depend on a healthy, well-functioning plant-soil-microbial complex to drive the food web base. For 7 years, the PI’s team has monitored the effects of the DWH oil spill in Louisiana salt marshes through 16 field-based data collections that quantify the impacts and recovery of a broad array of flora, fauna and microbes. Continuation of this research in heavily-oiled shorelines where marsh plants that serve as foundation species suffered severe mortality is critical to assessment of coastal marsh recovery, which to-date is incomplete, and to a better understanding of marsh resiliency to oil contamination. This proposal will (1) document and catalogue the decade-long impact of DWH oil on the coastal marsh plant-soil-microbial complex; (2) quantify rates and controls of long-term recovery; (3) catalogue oil transformation compounds detected in oiled salt marsh sediments up to 10 years after the spill and determine their toxicity; and (4) identify potential correlation between vegetation, microbes and transformed oil compounds in oiled salt marshes.


Aixin Hou
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