|Dividing P. naphthalenivorans cells. Micrograph is from the Joint Genome Institute (JGI). See this page for more details.|
Most people are familiar with naphthalene as a component of mothballs. This paper suggests that a whole metabolic community could subsist on naphthalene, or at least could adapt to its presence. Evolution is great that way!
*Literary anthropomorphism is a constant danger when discussing animals and especially when discussing microbes since it's difficult to understand why they do what they do. I will rarely, however, avoid an opportunity to make bacteria seem cute. They're already tiny, and tiny things are cute, right?
**A paper describing the aquifer describes it using little more detail than "A single truckload of coal tar was buried in a forested area in the northeastern United States." This MicrobeWiki page says it's in South Glens Falls, New York. There's a lab at Cornell that likes to work there. As far as they know, the local drinking water isn't contaminated with coal tar or anything like that.