Product News: Rainin Pos-D™ Pipettes Allow Environmental Microbiology Researchers to Investigate Biodegradation of Oil

12 Dec 2016


Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are using a METTLER TOLEDO Rainin Pos-D positive-displacement pipette to investigate the role of chemical dispersants in the biodegradation of oil in Arctic marine environments.

Taylor Gofstein, a PhD student, explained: Little is known about the fate of oil or oil spill response chemicals like dispersants in Arctic waters, since most studies regarding dispersants are performed in temperate regions. There is currently a pretty hot debate in the environmental microbiology community about the role dispersants play in the biodegradation of oil; one hypothesis suggests that they increase bioavailability to microorganisms speeding up the process while a few researchers suggest they are degraded in preference to petroleum contaminants, slowing the process. This is a key question we are interested in answering, and we recently performed a major incubation experiment using Arctic seawater.

Starting with 250 liters of water from just off Barrow the northern-most point of the USA this investigation included 180 one liter bottles and 165 stirrer plates. Our target was to achieve an oil-in-water concentration of around 50 ppm, requiring just 47 μl of crude oil per bottle. Pipetting oil accurately with a traditional air displacement pipette would be an exercise in futility, so we were lucky to have a Rainin Pos-D pipette available for this work. Unlike with some other positive-displacement pipettes, the Rainin tips come pre-assembled, meaning we can autoclave them and just use them as we would for a standard pipette, without worrying about sterility and contamination. The pipette is also ergonomically designed and has a very smooth mechanism, making it quick and easy to use.