186 Dispersant addition, but not nutrients, stimulated blooms of multiple hydrocarbonoclastic genera in nutrient-replete coastal marine surface waters

Harrison S.J., Malkin S.Y., Joye S.B. (2024) Marine Pollution Bulletin, 204, art. no. 116490,  DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2024.116490

ABSTRACT: The range of impacts of chemical dispersants on indigenous marine microbial communities and their activity remains poorly constrained. We tested the response of nearshore surface waters chronically exposed to oil leakage from a downed platform and supplied with nutrients by the Mississippi River to Corexit dispersant and nutrient additions. As assessed using 14C-labeled tracers, hexadecane mineralization potential was orders of magnitude higher in all unamended samples than in previously assessed bathypelagic communities. Nutrient additions stimulated microbial mortality but did not affect community composition and had no generalizable effect on hydrocarbon mineralization potential. By contrast, Corexit amendments caused a rapid shift in community composition and a drawdown of inorganic nitrogen and orthophosphate though no generalizable effect on hydrocarbon mineralization potential. The hydrocarbonoclastic community’s response to dispersants is largely driven by the relative availability of organic substrates and nutrients, underscoring the role of environmental conditions and multiple interacting stressors on hydrocarbon degradation potential.

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