Marine Snow-Oil Interaction Affects n-Alkane Biodegradation in Sediment

Shokouh Rahsepar, Justine S. Van Eenennaam, Jagoš R. Radović, Thomas B.P. Oldenburg, Huub H.M. Rijnaarts, Albertinka J. Murk, Edwin M. Foekema, Alette A.M. Langenhoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


During the Deepwater Horizon (DwH) oil spill, an excessive production of marine snow was observed, and it was estimated that as much as 14% of the oil was transferred to the ocean floor by MOSSFA (Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation). MOSSFA is an important pathway of transferring oil to the ocean floor. We performed experiments at laboratory scale in 15 aquaria, representing 5 exposures of marine snow with or without oil, only oil, and controls with only clay or sediment. We developed a method to produce artificial marine snow, which resembles the natural marine snow. Results showed 40% less biodegradation of alkanes in “marine snow with oil” compared to “only oil.”
Most probably, this is due to preferred biodegradation of marine snow organics comparing to oil alkanes. Biodegradation of marine snow reduces the dissolved
oxygen concentration, which might result in anaerobic conditions in the sediment layer. This finding can be projected to a potential ocean floor effect.
Original languageEnglish
Article number84
Number of pages11
JournalWater Air and Soil Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022


  • Biodegradation
  • Marine snow
  • Oil spill
  • Sediment
  • Deepwater Horizon


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