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Title:Oil Flares - A Star in our Seas
Author(s):Hickl, Vincent
Abstract:First impressions may be misleading: this image is not a photograph of a star emitting a set of solar flares. It is a microscopic crude oil droplet covered in a film of oil-degrading marine bacteria. These bacteria play a crucial role in marine ecosystems by consuming oil that enters the ocean following a spill. A long-term goal of our research is to counter the impact of marine oil spills on society and marine ecosystems by optimizing bioremediation strategies based on a fundamental understanding of the remarkable natural ability of marine bacteria to degrade hydrocarbons. In our research, we study the mechanisms by which bacteria colonize and degrade droplets using state-of-the-art microfluidics and optical microscopy techniques. Here we use different color schemes to show different stages of the droplet's evolution. The blue and green patterns in the center of the image show how bacteria deform an oil droplet after covering its surface. The red and orange protrusions around it are tubes of oil emanating from the droplet, increasing the amount of oil that can be reached by the bacteria.
Issue Date:2019
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Vincent Hickl
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-05-07

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