How marine bacteria reshape oil to eat it faster

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After an oil spill, humans rush to the scene to minimize impacts on the environment. But if the oil sticks around long enough, nature’s responders start to roll in. Bacteria such as Alcanivorax borkumensis thrive in these settings, using the components of petroleum as a source of energy and carbon. Now, a group of biophysicists has observed exactly how this bacterium breaks oil down. When Alcanivorax is exposed to oil for a longer period of time, it forms a biofilm around oil that can push and pull the oil’s surface into branching tubes. Watch the video to learn how this transformation facilitates a faster feast for these oil-loving bacteria.

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