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In our fossil-fuel age, oil spills remain a major problem. From the Exxon Valdez to the recent Prestige disaster in Spain, several million tons of oil soils the world's seas every year, causing ecological catastrophe. Scientists developing cleanup strategies have looked to the microbes that thrive in the wake of such spills as one solution. Now, thanks to a detailed breakdown of one of the most effective of these oil-eaters, they are closer to having biologically based remedies for such environmental disasters.