Turkish university succeeds in cleaning mucilage with bacteria isolates

Pilot study of eliminating mucilage with beneficial bacteria carried out in Yenikapi Yediemin Harbor

2021-06-15 00:34:28


A team from Istanbul University's Faculty of Aquatic Sciences has succeeded in cleaning mucilage formed on the surface of the Sea of Marmara with marine bacteria in its natural environment. 

The pilot study was initiated by Prof. Gulsen Altug from the Marine Biology Department and her team with the approval of the ministries of environment and urbanization and agriculture and forestry in order to eliminate mucilage in its natural environment with beneficial bacteria.

The efforts were initiated at Yenikapi Yediemin Harbor in Istanbul's Yenikapi district.

After a barrier was laid on the sea to surround the mucilage, local bacteria selected by the project team among the bacteria that was previously isolated from the sea and whose metabolic properties were suitable for decomposing the mucilage was applied to the area every morning and evening.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Altug said they started the project on June 8 under controlled conditions and collected samples from the area prior to its implementation.

"In this context, we applied local bacterial isolates that we have isolated from the seas for 20 years to the mucilage covered area,” she said, adding there was a dilution in the distribution of mucilage on the surface after the first application.

She said the second application was conducted on June 10 and noted that they continued to control the area every day.

After the third application on June 11, the dilution was more obvious and the mucilage formation was almost cleaned on June 12.

“On June 13, we did the application in the morning and we didn't need to do it in the evening. On the evening of June 13, there was no mucilage in the area we worked on,” Altug said.

She stressed that the mucilage did not sink to the bottom of the sea either.

- ‘Local bacteria does not harm marine flora'

“We aren't concerned about whether this bacteria will cause any harm to the sea.

“This bacteria restricts disease-causing bacteria in the environment, decomposes nutrient organic matter and contributes to the marine ecosystem cycle by breaking down leaves, dead organisms and wastes in the sea in normal times when there is no mucilage,” Altug said.

Mucilage, also known colloquially as “sea snot,” is an overgrowth of microscopic algae called phytoplankton and is caused by rising seawater temperatures due to global warming, stagnant water and pollution.

Turkish authorities have recently announced a 22-point action plan to clear the recent surge in the substance. The plan will be jointly carried out by the Environment and Urbanization Ministry, Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry and Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.

The Health Ministry, Interior Ministry, related institutions, non-governmental organizations and coastal municipalities under the coordination of governorships are also taking part.

*Writing by Sena Guler