Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Curtis Okolovitch's Internship, Summer 2013 - Part 9

My internship with Deep-C has finally come to an end. After analyzing sample extracts using Gas Chromatography (GC-FID) and processing the data from the growth and degradation experiments, I was able to come to some conclusions about Kala’s and my work this summer.

First off, in both experiments we were able to show significant growth of Alcanivorax spp. and Acinetobacter spp. on Macondo Oil. Secondly, one of our extraction procedures was able to demonstrate a decrease in total petroleum hydrocarbons. Both of these conclusions provide further evidence that these bacteria eat petroleum hydrocarbons and may give us insight into their role in the microbial communities of oiled environments!

Last week, I had the opportunity to present a poster on the data Kala and I have collected this summer at an Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) poster session. It was an awesome experience to speak with other undergraduate researchers and learn about the other research happening at Georgia Tech with the summer REU program in aquatic chemical ecology.

Me presenting a poster of Kala’s and my data at the REU Poster Session.
Overall, we are on track for perfecting the method of characterizing these bacterial strains. However, we still have a lot to do before we reach our goal of characterizing all of the hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria the Kostka Lab has isolated from oiled sands. We have already begun new cultures of Acinetobacter and Alcanivorax with 5% Macondo Oil to be sent to USF and analyzed for total petroleum hydrocarbons.

With my last words I would like to thank everyone in the Kostka Lab at Georgia Tech, especially Dr. Joel Kostka, Kala Marks, and Will Overholt, for all their mentoring and guidance this summer. I would also like to thank the Deep-C Consortium for this great opportunity. I hope you all gained a better appreciation for the role of the microbial community in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Spill! 
Curtis Okolovitch, Georgia Tech

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