Symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Riftia pachyptila Symbiosis with Thioautotrophic Bacteria - microbewiki

symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Riftia pachyptila, commonly known as giant tube worms, are marine invertebrates in the phylum The symbiotic bacteria, on which adult worms depend for sustenance, are not present in the gametes, but are The chemosynthetic bacteria within the trophosome convert this nitrate to ammonium ions, which then are. Illinois Science council blog Better together: symbiotic relationships in found these majestic giant tube worms (Riftia pachyptila) towering The bacteria (the “ symbiont”) use a process known as chemosynthesis Two months after discovering the symbiotic relationship between tube worms and bacteria. Symbiont from the Deep: Microbes in Tube Worms from Deep Sea Thermal Vents upon each other for survival in what is called a symbiotic relationship. This worm, called Riftia pachyptila, is an unusual animal because it has no the other (parasitism) or the relationship can be anywhere in between.

In a symbiotic relationship, two different species live together and each benefits from the partnership. In this case, the worm gives the bacteria a place to stay and the bacteria provide food for the worm. This worm, called Riftia pachyptila, is an unusual animal because it has no mouth or digestive tract and no apparent way to eat! Instead of eating food like other animals, Riftia allows bacteria to live inside of it and provide its food.

The worms have a special feeding sac, called a trophosomewhich provides the bacteria with shelter and ingredients to make food. In turn, the bacteria use these ingredients to make food for the worm. The trophosome and the bacteria inside it are so important that they make up over half the weight of this animal. Strange Life in the Dark Dark ocean floors near deep sea vents are home to giant clams, shrimps, tube worms, crabs and other strange creatures.

When these communities were first discovered living deep on the dark ocean floor, no one know how life could exist there without sunlight. Until recently, people thought that all food ultimately comes from plants and other photosynthetic creatures like algae and cyanobacteria.

These photosynthesizers use energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into food. Organisms that make food for an entire community are called primary producers. But who are the primary producers deep under water where there is no light?

These bacteria, like the ones in the picture above, get their energy from chemicals flowing out of the volcanic vents, not from energy found in sunlight.

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Hydrogen sulfide, the stuff that smells like rotting eggs and is toxic to us, is one of the main chemicals used by the vent bacteria for making food. These bacteria make energy by combining hydrogen sulfide with oxygen also supplied by the tube worms to make sulfur, water and energy. The bacteria then uses this energy to convert carbon dioxide into food just like plants use energy from the sun to make food.

This food in turn feeds the entire community of worms, clams, crabs and other creatures. In the case of the tube worm, the bacteria living inside the worm use the hydrogen sulfide supplied by the worm. The worm collects the hydrogen sulfide with its red feathery cap. This cap is red because it is filled with blood containing a special hemoglobin that transports the hydrogen sulfide to the bacteria.

The chemicals the vents release are toxic and released with high pressure, and that deep in the ocean, organic nutrients are scarce. In these conditions, with extremely high temperatures, high acidity, low oxygen, and low nutrients, the researchers were not expecting to see a lush, diverse marine ecosystem.

  • Giant Tube Worm

They were perplexed when they saw, not just living things, but a large community full of creatures of all sizes! Clams and mussels the size of dinner plates were scattered along the base of six-foot high tube worms, which were decorated with bright red plumes.

symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Strange shrimpsquat lobstersand crabs were seen crawling seamlessly along the seafloor, while eel-like zoarcid fish swam up above, looking for their next meal. How could such a rich community thrive in such a harsh environment? They Key to Survival in the Deep Ocean Mussels yellow shellfish living amongst giant tube worms with red plumes. From Dive and Discover. Microbiologist Colleen Cavanaugh had the same question as a first year graduate student at Harvard University in She was attending a lecture where the curator of worms at the Smithsonian Institution, Meredith L.

Jones, was discussing giant tube worms and the mystery behind their survival. She and her colleagues thought this organ helps the worm survive by either breaking down toxins or providing nutrition for its sperm. Incidentally, Cavanaugh had also recently attended a microbiology lecture, which got her thinking about microbes.

After obtaining a sample of trophosome tissue from Dr. Jones, Cavanaugh went on a quest to find these microscopic beings.

symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Using a high-powered microscope, Cavanaugh looked inside the trophosome and found small spheres microns thousandths of a millimeter in diameter that were distinct from the rest of the tissue. She later confirmed that these spheres contained DNA, which meant that they could be bacteria.

symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Further examining the trophosome, Cavanaugh also found key enzymes involved in digesting sulfur and extracting the carbon from carbon dioxide. These tube worms have a special type of symbiosis with their bacteria called a mutualism, where both organisms benefit. Do they really have tiny organisms living in their tissues that help them survive?

symbiotic relationship between chemosynthetic bacteria and riftia tubeworms

Humans and other terrestrial animals rely on gut and skin microbes to survive, so why not tube worms? The tube worms pull their weight by delivering the ingredients for its food directly to the bacteria.

Specifically, they use a special type of hemoglobin to bind both oxygen and hydrogen sulfide at the same time and deliver them right to their symbiont.

Riftia pachyptila Symbiosis with Thioautotrophic Bacteria

A black smoker chimney. Photograph by Neptune Canada. The service these tube worms provide helps the bacteria solve a very tough conundrum they have to deal with by living around hydrothermal vents.