Study investigates steel-eating microbes on ship hulls
by Brooks Hays
East Boothbay, Maine (UPI) Sep 19, 2016
Until now, researchers thought the microbial strain Mariprofundus sp. DIS-1 only thrived under anaerobic, or micro aerobic, conditions. But new research proves the steel-eating bacteria can tolerate oxygen.
The findings, detailed in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, suggest steel ships and marine infrastructure are more vulnerable to corrosion than previously thought.
Mariprofundus sp. DIS-1 gains energy by oxidizing iron. Its metabolic processes trigger the formation of iron oxides, or rust.
Researchers believed the ocean-dwelling steel-eater had an aversion to oxygen. That turned out not to be the case.
"We followed up this initial finding by obtaining the genome sequence of strain DIS-1, and found that it possessed a suite of oxygen tolerance genes that are not found in other members of the Mariprofundus genus," study author Adam C. Mumford, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey, explained in a news release.
Previously, scientists had only studied DIS-1 in jars in the lab. To get a better idea of how the microbes are able to colonize a ship's steel hull, researchers built a system of flowing water to mimic a marine environment.
Prior studies have singled out sulfate-reducing bacteria as the culprit of microbial corrosion in marine environments, but the latest experiments prove iron-oxidizing bacteria are the first to colonize.
"We wanted to figure out how the initial colonization by iron oxidizing bacteria proceeded, and that question really drove the research," said Mumford.
By better understanding how marine microbes colonize steel, researchers hope to develop improved anti-corrosion methods for the protection of ships, pipes, bridges and other types of marine infrastructure. Underwater corrosion is a billion-dollar problem.
"Understanding the basic microbiology of this process is a crucial part of figuring out how to mitigate it," concluded Mumford.
Space Technology News - Applications and Research
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.