Identifying the Signature of the Natural Attenuation in the Microbial Ecology of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Groundwater Using Molecular Methods and “Bug Traps”

EPA Grant Number: R830633C007
Subproject: this is subproject number 007 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R830633
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: IPEC University of Tulsa (TU)
Center Director: Sublette, Kerry L.
Title: Identifying the Signature of the Natural Attenuation in the Microbial Ecology of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Groundwater Using Molecular Methods and “Bug Traps”
Investigators: Sublette, Kerry L. , Ford, Laura P. , Kolhatkar, R. , Peacock, A. , White, David C
Institution: University of Tulsa
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: May 1, 2003 through April 30, 2004
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research

Objective:

Specifically we proposed to search for the signature of MTBE intrinsic bioremediation in the microbial ecology of the contaminated groundwater. BP, in collaboration with EPA, recently conducted an extensive survey of 74 BP retail sites with gasoline spills. Some of these sites indicated MTBE attenuation and others did not. Working with BP we will investigate and compare the in situ microbial ecologies of a subset of these sites using "bug traps" which concentrate organisms for analysis and provide a time-integrated picture of the subsurface microbial community. Further we will supplement this field work with an analysis of the microbial ecology of microcosms currently operated in the laboratory of Dr. Joe Suflita (University of Oklahoma). Microcosms positive for MTBE biodegradation will be sampled using the same bug traps used in the field sampling.

It is hypothesized that the in situ microbiota contain a signature of past and present MTBE exposure and utilization. A comprehensive measure of the in situ microbial ecology of a site will yield the identity of this signature. We maintain that a definition of MTBE natural attenuation in terms of a site's microbial ecology is direct and definitive, whereas a definition in terms of contaminant chemistry and/or geochemistry or hydrology is indirect and inferential. It is well established that indigenous microbes generate various compounds within their cellular structure (biomarkers) that reflect in situ conditions. Therefore, the microbial community contains a record of the sum microbial response to the environment that is written from changes in the biochemistry of individual organisms. We propose that these responses, in association with knowledge of available electron acceptors and donors of a site, will define the signature of a successful MTBE natural attenuation process.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Sustainable Industry/Business, Remediation, Sustainable Environment, Treatment Technologies, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, contaminated sediments, decontamination, environmental technology, petroleum contaminated soil, petrochemicals, remediation technologies, environmental sustainability, petroleum industry, ecological impacts, environmental education, ecological research

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R830633    IPEC University of Tulsa (TU)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R830633C001 Development of an Environmentally Friendly and Economical Process for Plugging Abandoned Wells (Phase II)
    R830633C002 A Continuation of Remediation of Brine Spills with Hay
    R830633C003 Effective Stormwater and Sediment Control During Pipeline Construction Using a New Filter Fence Concept
    R830633C004 Evaluation of Sub-micellar Synthetic Surfactants versus Biosurfactants for Enhanced LNAPL Recovery
    R830633C005 Utilization of the Carbon and Hydrogen Isotopic Composition of Individual Compounds in Refined Hydrocarbon Products To Monitor Their Fate in the Environment
    R830633C006 Evaluation of Commercial, Microbial-Based Products to Treat Paraffin Deposition in Tank Bottoms and Oil Production Equipment
    R830633C007 Identifying the Signature of the Natural Attenuation in the Microbial Ecology of Hydrocarbon Contaminated Groundwater Using Molecular Methods and “Bug Traps”
    R830633C008 Using Plants to Remediate Petroleum-Contaminated Soil: Project Continuation
    R830633C009 Use of Earthworms to Accelerate the Restoration of Oil and Brine Impacted Sites