Topic- Oil- Degrading Bacteria
Title- Oil Be Seeing You
Developed at Woodrow Wilson Fellowship Foundation Biology Institute, by Elizabeth Burck, Peggy Deichstetter, Sue Draper and Su Ellen Silverman – July 1999
Recommended grade level: 10-12
Courses- Biology, Microbiology, Environmental Science
Purpose- To determine the relationship between soil environments and the presence of petroleum-degrading bacteria.
The growth of oil degrading bacteria, commonly found in all natural environments, was observed and measured in a lab situation for seven days. Soil samples were gathered from four locations thought to vary in exposure to environmental oil. Each sample was placed in a separate flask, given water, nutrient broth and a mothball to serve as a hydrocarbon source. Turbidity of growth medium and quantitative mothball measurements served as proof of bacterial growth.
The sample taken from the garden, the area thought to be least likely
to support oil-eating bacteria, showed the greatest bacterial growth.
This finding suggests that the presence of oil degrading bacteria in the
environment is not exclusively dependent on direct exposure to oil but
could be elevated through the addition of phosphorus and nitrogen by fertilization.
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