Oil spills could be cleaned up by giving local microbes extra genes

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2226522-oil-spills-could-be-cleaned-up-by-giving-local-microbes-extra-genes/

Oil spill

Oil spills are tricky to clean

Alexander Schwarz / EyeEm/Getty Images

We could give bacteria a helping hand to tackle oil spills on land and at sea by equipping them with enzymes for breaking down hydrocarbons, according to new research. This could be much cheaper and more eco-friendly than other clean-up methods.

“At the moment, there really are not any good ways to clean up oil spills,” says Katherine French at the University of California, Berkeley. Common methods include dumping the contaminated soil elsewhere or spraying chemicals that can themselves be damaging.

Some microbes naturally possess enzymes that can …