POMPEII WORM (Alvinella pompejana) and the microbe Nautilia profundicola who reside on their back
©University of Delaware
The Pompeii worm, the most heat-tolerant animal on Earth, lives in the deep ocean at hydrothermal vents.* The worm’s back is covered in bacteria adapted for living in extreme environments
The research focused on the bacterium Nautilia profundicola, a microbe that survives near deep-sea hydrothermal vents. It was found in a fleece-like lining on the backs of Pompeii worms, a type of tubeworm that lives at hydrothermal vents, and in bacterial mats on the surfaces of the vents’ chimney structures.
One gene, called rgy, allows the bacterium to manufacture a protein called reverse gyrase when it encounters extremely hot fluids from the Earth’s interior released from the sea floor.
“The discovery of reverse gyrase in Nautilia profundicola suggests that it plays a key role in this microbe’s ability to thrive near deep-sea hydrothermal vents, where conditions are thought to resemble those found on early Earth,” said Matt Kane, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the research. “Knowledge of microbes living near vents may aid our understanding of how life evolved.” more here
Fact Source: National Science Foundation
Other deep water/vent animals you may like:
Polychaete Carpet Worm (gets no love)
Terrible Claw - Deep Water Lobster
•A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet’s surface from which geothermally heated water issues. Under the sea, hydrothermal vents may form features called black smokers. Relative to the majority of the deep sea, the areas around submarine hydrothermal vents are biologically more productive, often hosting complex communities fueled by the chemicals dissolved in the vent fluids. Chemosynthetic archaea form the base of the food chain, supporting diverse organisms, including giant tube worms, clams, limpets and shrimp. Active hydrothermal vents are believed to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and ancient hydrothermal vents have been speculated to exist on Mars.