Crude oil is widely used in our everyday life to produce plastics, streets, fuel, and other items. Unfortunately, oil is toxic to plants and animals (including humans). If it gets spilled, for example in a transportation accident, it needs to be cleaned up to prevent damage to the environment.
One way to do this is to use bacteria that eat oil. But methods to find these special bacteria are very expensive and take time. Consequently, other methods are often used for cleaning up. The problem is that those other methods also harm the environment – just not as much as oil does.
We wanted companies to be more willing to use the environmentally friendly oil-eating bacteria for clean-ups. We developed an inexpensive test to identify these special microorganisms. If companies can pay less, they are more likely to use these bacteria and be kinder to the environment while they’re at it!