How Giant Tube Worms Survive at Hydrothermal Vents
This short video explores the symbiotic relationship between giant tube worms and species of chemosynthetic bacteria.
In 1977, scientists discovered a diverse community of organisms inhabiting the deep-sea hydrothermal vents of the Pacific Ocean, where there is no sunlight. The sources of energy in these ecosystems are hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and other inorganic chemicals that are abundant in the water that rises from the vents. Some species of bacteria can use these inorganic compounds in chemical reactions to produce sugar and other organic molecules in a process called chemosynthesis. Scientists discovered that some animals living near hydrothermal vents, such as the giant tube worm, Riftia pachyptila, have a symbiotic relationship with species of chemosynthetic bacteria, which allows these animals to survive deep in the ocean.
This video is part of the series I Contain Multitudes, hosted by science journalist Ed Yong.
chemosynthesis, energy, marine biology, mutualism, oceanography, sulfur oxidation, symbiosis, trophosome
Cavanaugh, Colleen M. “Microbial symbiosis: Patterns of diversity in the marine environment.” American Zoology 34, 1 (1994): 79–89. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/34.1.79.
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