72b691fe 2dbb 44f5 B06d 34bebee64c57@mpi Bremen.de 1200

Image caption: Enceladus black smoker at the Aurora Vent Field. Credit: HACON cruise 2021, REV Ocean

‘Smoke’ of underwater volcanoes in the Arctic ocean; Biologists discover living bacteria.

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The memorable line from Jeff Goldblum‘s character in Jurassic Park, “Life, uh, finds a way,” is more than simply a catchphrase. When conducting study in the Arctic, German scientists found evidence supporting their claim when they discovered microorganisms thriving off the “smoke” from underwater volcanoes.

Hot fluids rise from “hydrothermal vents,” which are located at the borders of tectonic plates far below the ocean. Although these fluids lack oxygen, they are rich in metals like iron, manganese, or copper. These fluids can also carry hydrogen, methane, and sulfides.

Thousands of kilometers away from the source, these plumes disperse after rising hundreds of meters over the ocean floor. According to the Max Planck Institute of Microbiology, despite the possibility that most life forms could be endangered by these plumes, some bacteria continue to flourish there.

Massimiliano Molari, the first author of a research paper on the bacteria published in Nature Microbiology a de­tailed look at bac­teria of the genus Sulfurimonas mentioned, “We took a detailed look at the bacteria of genus Sulfurimonas. It was as­sumed that they were flushed there from sea­floor vent-as­so­ci­ated en­vir­on­ments. But we wondered whether the plumes might ac­tu­ally be a suitable environment for some mem­bers of the Sulfurimonas group.”.

After gathering the samples, they discovered a brand-new species of Sulfurimonas called uSulfurimonas pluma, where the “U” is a superscript denoting uncultivated. These chilly hydrothermal plumes are where this new species lives.

It’s interesting to note that these microbes didn’t use sulfides for energy, but rather hydrogen from the plume. The researchers then looked into the genomes of the microbes and discovered that they were severely reduced and lacking genes that were common among their relatives. They lacked many common genes, but they still possessed a lot of additional genes that helped them adapt to their harsh environment and thrive.

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