University of Houston
Our objective is to clarify the effects of oil-water interfaces on marine bacteria motility in the initial stage of biodegradation, as microbes move towards and attach to dispersed oil. The underlying idea driving the proposed work is that bacterial chemotaxis will enhance the rate of biodegradation and can be modulated by physical factors in the environment and by properties of oil-water interfaces. The four scientific questions to be addressed through this proposal are:1) How does bacterial chemotaxis affect the rate at which microbes degrade oil? 2) How do the elevated pressures found in the ocean and in the Deepwater Horizon spill modify the motility, chemotaxis, and hydrocarbon utilization? 3) How do dispersants alter microbial motility mechanisms and adhesion to oil-water interfaces during biodegradation? 4) How do viscoelastic interfaces and flows alter microbial motility?
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