On July 8th, thirty scientists from ADDOMEx descended upon Texas A&M University at Galveston to perform an experiment which would examine the effects of oil and dispersants on the microbial communities in the Gulf of Mexico. Faculty, staff and students – undergraduates, graduates, high schoolers and NSF REU (Research Experiences for Undergrads) from across the country (UC Santa Barbara, Old Dominion University, Mount Allison University and UC Merced) and Canada teamed up to look at the differences between processes occurring in the open ocean and those in coastal zones.

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ADDOMEx team members who participated in this experimentation

Aboard the RV Trident they collected water from the Flower Garden Banks, roughly 120 miles off the Texas coast, and from Tabs Buoy R, miles off Sabine Lake in west Louisiana. The researchers observed that the bacterial community (pictured at the right) dominated the response of samples from the open ocean while phytoplankton were more important in coastal waters. In the coming months, they will process 1000’s of samples collected, with anticipation of presenting their findings at the next Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science conference schedule to be held in New Orleans (February 2017)

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Boat crew from the second sampling trip.

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An fluorescent image of an aggregate, oil droplets are seen in orange.