Exploring the dark matter of biology

Birmingham researchers are studying little-known organisms that play fundamental roles in the world's ecosystems, under threat from pollution and environmental change. Ros Dodd reports.


The 2010 BP oil spill, which saw nearly five million barrels from a sea-floor oil gusher pour into the Gulf of Mexico over three months, is considered the biggest accident of its kind in the history of the petroleum industry.

A massive clean-up operation ensued, but extensive damage had already been done to marine and wildlife habitats. Nearly five years on, the scale of that damage is still being assessed. In 2014, a study reported that tuna and amberjack exposed to the oil developed potentially fatal heart and other organ deformities.