Navigation Links
Wood on the seafloor -- an oasis for deep-sea life
Date:1/22/2013

This press release is available in German.

Trees do not grow in the deep sea, nevertheless sunken pieces of wood can develop into oases for deep-sea life - at least temporarily until the wood is fully degraded. A team of Max Planck researchers from Germany now showed how sunken wood can develop into attractive habitats for a variety of microorganisms and invertebrates. By using underwater robot technology, they confirmed their hypothesis that animals from hot and cold seeps would be attracted to the wood due to the activity of bacteria, which produce hydrogen sulfide during wood degradation.

Many of the animals thriving at hydrothermal vents and cold seeps require special forms of energy such as methane and hydrogen sulfide emerging from the ocean floor. They carry bacterial symbionts in their body, which convert the energy from these compounds into food. The vents and seeps are often separated by hundreds of kilometers of deep-sea desert, with no connection between them.

For a long time it was an unsolved mystery how animals can disperse between those rare oases of energy in the deep sea. One hypothesis was that sunken whale carcasses, large dead algae, and also sunken woods could serve as food source and temporary habitat for deep-sea animals, but only if bacteria were able to produce methane and sulfur compounds from it.

To tackle this question, the team deposited wood logs on the Eastern Mediterranean seafloor at depths of 1700 meters and returned after one year to study the fauna, bacteria, and chemical microgradients.

"We were surprised how many animals had populated the wood already after one year. The main colonizers were wood-boring bivalves of the genus Xylophaga, also named "shipworms" after their shallow-water counterparts. The wood-boring Xylophaga essentially constitute the vanguard and prepare the habitat for other followers," Bienhold said. But they also need assistance from bacteria, namely to make use of the cellulose from the wood, which is difficult to digest."

The team of researchers observed that the wood-boring bivalves had cut large parts of the wood into smaller chips, which were further degraded by many other organisms. This activity led to the consumption of oxygen, enabling the production of hydrogen sulfide by sulfate-reducing microorganisms. And indeed, the researchers also found a mussel, which is typically only found at cold seeps or similar environments where it uses sulfur compounds as an energy source. "It is amazing to see how deep-sea bacteria can transform foreign substances such as wood to provide energy for cold-seep mussels on their journey through the deep ocean", said Antje Boetius, chief scientist of the expedition. Furthermore, the researchers discovered unknown species of deep-sea worms, which have been described by taxonomic experts in Germany and the USA. Thus, sunken woods do not only promote the dispersal of rare deep-sea animals, but also form hotspots of biodiversity at the deep seafloor.


'/>"/>
Contact: Dr. Christina Bienhold
cbienhol@mpi-bremen.de
49-421-202-8869
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Measuring dispersal -- how well are soft-sediment invertebrate communities connected on the seafloor?
2. Dark Energy: Life beneath the seafloor discussed at upcoming American Geophysical Union conference
3. Expedition to undersea mountain yields new information about sub-seafloor structure
4. Deep-sea crabs seek food using ultraviolet vision
5. Delving into the molecular mechanism behind deep-sea bacterias pressure tolerance
6. Copper chains: Study reveals Earths deep-seated hold on copper
7. New species of deep-sea catshark described from the Galapagos
8. Hot meets cold at new deep-sea ecosystem: Hydrothermal seep
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Wood on the seafloor -- an oasis for deep-sea life
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016 On Monday, the Department of Homeland ... share solutions for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request ... Protection (CBP), explains that CBP intends to add biometrics ... the United States , in order to deter ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring ... involved, it has secured the final acceptance by ... for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus ... to be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry ... - 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture ... in 2015 and is estimated to grow at ... billion by 2024.  Increasing application of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 A person commits a crime, ... scene to track the criminal down. An outbreak ... and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used ... investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... SANTA MONICA, Calif. , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer ... to pioneer increasingly precise treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of ... 77 institutions across 15 countries. Read More About the ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announced the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, ... explore the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today ... trials of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The ... ascending dose studies designed to assess the safety, ... injection in healthy adult volunteers. Forty ... a single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: