Tissue abnormalities found in oysters years after Deepwater Horizon oil spill

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) petroleum drilling rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, resulting in the world’s worst oil spill in history with more than 4 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico. Though the short-term impact of the oil spill on local wildlife was widely researched among scientists and discussed in the media, there has been relatively little research on the long-term effects of the disaster. In a paper published this week in PLOS ONE, researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, Nova Southeastern University (NSU), South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSMT), and Kent State University show that Eastern oysters from the Gulf Coast have significantly higher rates of metaplasia—a condition that can cause debilitating tissue abnormalities—than those from a region unaffected by the DWH oil spill, even several years after the event, raising concerns about the health of the economically and ecologically important species.

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