German scientists have found evidence of life in the depths of the oil: small drops of water, where special bacteria live, writes the magazine Science.
Scientists are working on the shores of Peach Lake (Island Trininad, Caribbean), where is the world’s largest reservoir of fresh liquid asphalt. The mineral rises to the surface where it solidifies and forms a hard crust.
Although till now it has been known that the decomposition of oil by anaerobic microbes occurs only at the boundary between oil and water environments, researchers have found liquid droplets in the very small mineral (1-3 microliters). Inside the droplets live complicated metan producing organized communities of bacteria that break down oil.
The bacterial activity changes the chemical composition of the mineral, and ultimately leads to the formation of viscous bitumen (as in oil sands). Although this process damages the quality of the oil, it may be very useful for the purification of water.
Microorganisms, that feel excellent in toxic oil, will help scientists to find new ways to remove contaminants.