The Gutierrez Lab Group
The main research theme of the lab is on the identification, characterization, response and ecology of oil-degrading bacteria in the marine environment. Oil-degrading bacteria play a key role in the ocean in breaking down petrochemical contaminants, such during an oil spill event. We have published widely on the microbial response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and our research also focuses on the microbiology of sea surface and deepwater provinces in regions of the North East Atlantic where oil exploration is expanding.
We use conventional and sophisticated microbiological and molecular approaches (e.g. DNA stable isotope probing, CARD-FISH, next generation sequencing). Our aim is to discover and seek an enhanced level of understanding on the resilience of the marine environment to cope with the impacts of fossil fuel contamination, and use this information to combat future oil spills at sea. We are also bio-prospecting the potential of oil-degrading bacteria for discovering novel types of bio-molecules, such as surface-active agents (bio-surfactants and bio-emulsifiers) for biotechnological applications.