By now you have probably heard about of the outrageous number of deaths of manatees and dolphins in the Gulf this winter. Compared to that story, learning that microbes are also being affected isn’t really much of a tearjerker. Of course, the fact that the Deepwater Horizon’s impacts include bacteria hints at just how pervasive the ecological consequences of last year may be.
Led by biologist William Widger of the University of Houston, the researchers sequenced DNA from near-shore water and beach soil samples gathered before and after oil arrived in Gulfport, Mississippi and Grand Isle, Louisana following the blowout last spring.
By cross-referencing the DNA to microbe gene databases, they identified populations of bacteria and how they changed. Vibrio cholera, the bug that causes cholera, spiked upwards after the spill.