Bacteria binged on BP oil but didn't grow

One suspicion: The spilled crude didn’t provide a balanced diet

By Janet Raloff, 15:34 PM August 5, 2011

When the Deepwater Horizon accident spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico last year, surface bacteria launched into a feeding frenzy, a new study finds. But microbes that gobbled up the surface oil did so without increasing their numbers or gaining weight.

Waters in much of the Gulf are fairly mineral poor, at least in terms of what microbes need to flourish, says chemical oceanographer Benjamin Van Mooy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. He an...

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