Hydrocarbon cycle

The hydrocarbon cycle in the ocean is a new phenomenon that scientists discovered not long time ago. The hydrocarbon cycle is a process of the smallest type of microorganisms that cleaning up the ocean from oil spills and understands the balance of life through the earth’s history.

Hydrocarbon cycle is too technical term, let’s understand easily by the two separate term hydrocarbon is an organic chemical compound that is a chain of hydrogen and carbon and this form from the crude oil, natural gas, and coal. So, Hydrocarbon is the synonym of petroleum. a cycle is a process of recycling.

It plays a larger role in the ecology sector and biological sources that scientist suspect signs of the overlooked global cycle that existence of an ocean’s response to oil spills.

As the outcome of the research, in Feb 2021, Professor David Valentine from Earth Science in UCSB research said that “the hydrocarbon cycle occurs in the ocean that is distinct from a capacity of ocean respond to petroleum unit”.

In 2015, The International study published that the hydrocarbon produced by small-molecule marine cyanobacteria consume the sunlight energy and converting energy into biological matter. But the new study discovered that two types of marine cyanobacteria are added up to 500 times more hydrocarbon than the previous one in the year. Also human is everywhere in contribution, It’s produced by the local dump in the ocean.

Hydrocarbon is included in the pentadecane that present in the diesel fuel, this harmful for those bacteria that cleaning up the ocean.

Let’s took another researcher Love and colleague some effort to this is a global cycle. He goes to the north Atlantic to collect the subtropical water so this area is far from the human-produced hydrocarbon. They were able to confirm that the pentadecane present at the seawater level of biological origin by using gas chromatography. They analyze their data and found of the number of pentadecanes is increased with a wide variety of cyanobacteria.

Professor Valentine explains the cycle of pentadecane in the ocean diel cycling of the cyanobacteria and emitted the carbon dioxide to complete the cycle. it is dangerous to sea animals because they not getting sunlight into the sea.

Love and his team identified lots of bacteria and plenty of types of archaea that are also in response to the addition of pentadecane in their samples. So they checked their sample to see if the hydrocarbon-consuming microbes could also break down petroleum and adding up to a petroleum hydrocarbon to samples increasingly closer see a wide range of areas with active oil seepage.

 Professor Valentine calls this process “biogeographic priming” – when the ocean’s microbial population is conditioned to a particular energy source in a specific geographic area. “And what they see with this work is a distinction between pentadecane and petroleum,” he said, “that is important for understanding how different ocean regions will respond to oil spills.”

“I think just how much we don’t know about the ecology of a lot of hydrocarbon-consuming organisms,” said researcher Love.

The hydrocarbon cycle has naturally occurred and its pentadecane is harmful to human beings also. And added up carbon dioxide is immense for generating a greater amount of pentadecane and cyanobacteria so we can stop produced by stopping the carbon dioxide emissions and local dumping in the sea.


Material provided by University of California.

Microbial production and consumption of hydrocarbons in the global cycle ocean. Nature Microbiology International Journal (Nature Microbiology, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41564-020-00859-8)


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