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Nearby, a wetland that in 1979 was layered in oil now looks like any other wilderness pond. The thick oil had been vacuumed away after the rupture. Microbes that thrive in wetlands have broken down much of the rest of the pollution, researchers say.
Recent studies have looked at the genetics of Bemidji bacteria. Nicole Fahrenfeld, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rutgers University, has worked with other scientists to get DNA profiles of “known hydrocarbon degraders.”
The research revealed where certain bugs are degrading the most oil. Other researchers are still studying the oil-loving bacteria, and looking for new ones.
“Everybody would like to find the new bacteria with a new ability,” Fahrenfeld said.
David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 • @ShafferStrib