MOBILE, Ala. (AP) New research by an Auburn University professor and other scientists suggests that the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could have significant impacts on microscopic life that might not become apparent for years.

Auburn professor Ken Halanych and scientists from the University of New Hampshire, the University of California Davis Genome Center, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, published their work last month in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

The Press-Register of Mobile reports ( that researchers collected soil samples from five spots around Alabama's Dauphin Island and Mobile Bay, as well as a persistently oiled beach in Grand Isle, La.

What they found, according to their report, was that diverse communities of microscopic animals had given way to fungi, some of which are associated with oil spills.