Oceanus Magazine
Back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Homepage

Images: Of Predators, Prey, and Petroleum

WHOI biologist Virginia Edgcomb is testing whether bacteria consume more petroleum compounds when they are subject to predation than when they are undisturbed. The predators in this case are microscopic, mostly single-celled organisms called protists. Both the protists and the bacteria were collected along with sediment and water from near the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Protists prey on bacteria. To find out whether bacteria consume more or less oil in the presence of protists, Edgcomb placed microbe-containing sediment and water from the Gulf of Mexico into test tubes, added a small amount of a well-characterized deisel oil to each tube, and inactivated the protists in some tubes. She also tested the effects of factors such as the presence of nutrients and low oxygen levels. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Research associate Dave Beaudoin draws a sample of microbes from an experimental tube. Beaudoin examined key DNA sequences from the samples to reveal what kinds of protists were present in each. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)