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Open-File Report 2011–1059

A Preliminary Report to the U.S. Coast Guard

A Survey of Alterations in Microbial Community Diversity in Marine Sediments in Response to Oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill: Northern Gulf of Mexico Shoreline, Texas to Florida

By John T. Lisle

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Microbial community genomic DNA was extracted from sediment samples collected from the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM) coast. These samples had a high probability of being impacted by Macondo-1 (M-1) well oil from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling site. The hypothesis for this project was that presence of M-1 oil in coastal sediments would significantly alter the diversity within the microbial communities associated with the impacted sediments. To determine if community-level changes did or did not occur following exposure to M-1 oil, microbial community-diversity fingerprints were generated and compared. Specific sequences within the community's genomic DNA were first amplified using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using a primer set that provides possible resolution to the species level. A second nested PCR that was performed on the primary PCR products using a primer set on which a GC-clamp was attached to one of the primers. These nested PCR products were separated using denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) that resolves the nested PCR products based on sequence dissimilarities (or similarities), forming a genomic fingerprint of the microbial diversity within the respective samples. Sediment samples with similar fingerprints were grouped and compared to oil-fingerprint data from Rosenbauer and others (2010). The microbial community fingerprints grouped closely when identifying those sites that had been impacted by M-1 oil (N=12) and/or some mixture of M-1 and other oil (N=4), based upon the oil fingerprints. This report represents some of the first information on naturally occurring microbial communities in sediment from shorelines along the NGOM coast. These communities contain microbes capable of degrading oil and related hydrocarbons, making this information relevant to response and recovery of the NGOM from the DWH incident.

First posted October 24, 2011

For additional information contact:
John T. Lisle
U.S. Geological Survey
St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Lisle, J.T., 2011, A survey of alterations in microbial community diversity in marine sediments in response to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill: Northern Gulf of Mexico shoreline, Texas to Florida: U.S. Geological Survey Open File- Report 2011–1059, 15 p.






Sampling Analyses



References Cited

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