PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED: This project represents a comprehensive study of the interactions between i) physical, and biogeochemical variables and ii) the microbial processes and biodiversity found in microbial mat systems that develop at the sediment surface in coastal zones, and how these interactions can be exploited to bioremediate oil polluted sediments. The information gained from these studies will substantially advance our knowledge and understanding of microbial mat ecosystems and will help to predict their response(s) to oil pollution. This information will be primarily obtained by the evaluation of the potential of microbial mats for bioremediation of oil polluted coastal zones. SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH: The scientific objectives are to understand the role of microbial mats in the bioremediation of oil-polluted shallow coastal marine environments. For that, specific actions will be undertaken to determine the biogeochemical responses and the change in microbial diversity of selected microbial mats in different environments when subjected to oil pollution or in some microbial mats maintained in mesocosms under controlled conditions and exposed to various hydrocarbons and/or crude oils. A second step of the project will be to investigate the behavior and rate of degradation of hydrocarbon molecules when introduced into experimental microbial mats and to assess the extent of oil degradation (linear, branched and polycyclic hydrocarbons). Finally, an important part of the project will be to isolate, characterize and determine the physiology and biochemistry of the dominant microorganisms involved in hydrocarbon degradation in microbial mats.EXPECTED IMPACTS: The primary aim of this research programme is to evaluate the potential of using microbial mats as a means of restoring oil contaminated sites to their original pristine state without the excessive use of dispersants and extensive change in the character of the coastal landscape.
|Effective start/end date||1/02/00 → 31/01/03|