An ongoing genome research project has been awarded significant funds to develop microbiological tests that will use bacteria to indicate the presence of hydrocarbons. Heidi Vella-Starr finds out more from research lead Casey Hubert.
In the seabed certain bacteria can indicate the presence of hydrocarbons, a phenomenon that has sparked a race by some, including the US and Canadian governments, to develop a ‘test’ using these bacteria to help identify the presence and quantity of oil and gas.
Leading the drive in Canada, is research conducted by Casey Hubert at the University of Calgary. Hubert’s research was recently awarded $1.59m from Genome Canada, a not-for-profit organization funded by the Government of Canada, in addition to $3.31m from the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, and other funders.
The study plans to produce microbiological tests, or ‘screening assays’, that measure the distributions of different groups of bacteria that have the potential to indicate the presence and proximity of seabed hydrocarbon seeps.
According to Hubert, this approach is also helping to attract new investment to Nova Scotia, like recent leases totalling $2bn for new exploration.