PHILADELPHIA, June 28 (UPI) — A common plant species in the Mississippi delta has properties that could help reduce the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, scientists say.
Abundant in the Mobile, Miss., and Atchafalaya deltas, the delta bulrush, Scirpus deltarum, could be instrumental in decomposing the oil, the Academy of Natural Sciences said in a release Monday.
A close relative of the delta bulrush, the common three-square, can transmit oxygen to underwater microorganisms capable of decomposing oil, says Dr. Alfred Ernest Schuyler, the academy’s curator emeritus of botany.
“Presumably, the closely-related delta bulrush can do the same thing,” Schuyler said.
Schuyler discovered and named the delta bulrush during field research in 1970.
Plants like the delta bulrush will be the first that spilled oil will encounter, and may act as a buffer for the rest of the wetlands, Schuyler says.
“Bulrushes are environmental workhorses, effectively used in sewage lagoons to purify water,” Schuyler said.
This capacity to decompose pollutants in sewage could help in decomposing some chemicals in the oil, he says.
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