Hazen TC, Dubinsky EA, Desantis TZ, Andersen GL, Piceno YM,
Singh N, Jansson JK, Probst A, Borglin SE, Fortney JL, Stringfellow WT, Bill M,
Conrad MS, Tom LM, Chavarria KL, Alusi TR, Lamendella R, Joyner DC, Spier C,
Baelum J, Auer M, Zemla ML, Chakraborty R, Sonnenthal EL, D'haeseleer P, Holman
HY, Osman S, Lu Z, Van Nostrand JD, Deng Y, Zhou J, Mason OU.
MS 70A-3317, One Cyclotron Road, Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
The biological effects and expected fate of the vast amount of
oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon blowout are unknown due to
the depth and magnitude of this event. Here, we report that the dispersed
hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-sea indigenous gamma-proteobacteria that are
closely related to known petroleum-degraders. Hydrocarbon-degrading genes
coincided with the concentration of various oil contaminants. Changes in
hydrocarbon composition with distance from the source and incubation experiments
with environmental isolates demonstrate faster-than-expected hydrocarbon
biodegradation rates at 5 degrees C. Based on these results, the potential
exists for intrinsic bioremediation of the oil plume in the deep-water column
without substantial oxygen drawdown.