Chemosynthetic bacteria and tubeworms symbiotic relationship examples

Better Together: Symbiotic Relationships in the Sea - Illinois Science Council

chemosynthetic bacteria and tubeworms symbiotic relationship examples

Chemosynthesis is the conversion of carbon compounds and other the tube worms survived because of their relationship with chemosynthetic bacteria. Examples of chemoautotrophs include bacteria and methanogenic archaea living in deep see vents. Somero, G.N. Symbiotic Exploitation of Hydrogen Sulfide. Feb 5, Illinois Science council blog Better together: symbiotic relationships in the sea After obtaining a sample of trophosome tissue from Dr. Jones, Cavanaugh Bacteria provide giant tube worms with food in exchange for shelter. The bacteria (the “symbiont”) use a process known as chemosynthesis to reap. Sep 29, Riftia pachyptila Symbiosis with Thioautotrophic Bacteria on the processes of chemolithoautotrophs – chemosynthetic organisms which oxidize inorganic Hydrothermal vent tube worms ( The thioautotrophic bacteria that live in a mutually beneficial relationship with Riftia.

So, the tube worms find these compounds for them. These bacteria are like an adult who has cut a deal to move back in with their parents. They get to live in a cozy home a trophos-home, if you willand their hosts provide them with all of their groceries.

You Feed Me, I Feed You: Symbiosis - Dive & Discover

So, Cavanaugh tested for another enzyme that plants and other photosynthetic organisms use to convert carbon dioxide into usable carbon. This one is called RuBisCO. By tracing this enzyme in the bivalves, she identified trillions of chemosynthetic bacteria living in their gills that are almost identical to the ones found in the giant tube worms. Scientists hypothesize that this symbiotic relationship explains how they burrow into the ocean floor: Scientists think this allows them to have access to the oxygen-rich seawater above as well as the sulfide-rich sediments below.

BBC - GCSE Bitesize: Parasitism and mutualism

Does that sound familiar? Clams, mussels, crabs, fish, and shrimp that live around hydrothermal vents all depend on chemosynthetic bacteria to survive. Photo by Dive and Discover. In all, Cavanaugh found two different marine invertebrates that live in two different sulfide-rich environments, yet have the same symbiotic association with the same chemosynthetic bacteria.

She believed this meant that chemosynthetic symbioses are much more common than her predecessors thought. In fact, virtually all marine animals that live around hydrothermal vents survive because of the chemosynthetic bacteria that live in or on their cells.

chemosynthetic bacteria and tubeworms symbiotic relationship examples

These bacteria get their energy from methane instead of sulfur. Photo via Dive and Discover. The Importance of Working Together Much like plants and other photosynthetic organisms that are the base of food chains in terrestrial and some aquatic environments, chemosynthetic bacteria form the basis of food chains in environments where light is not available.

chemosynthetic bacteria and tubeworms symbiotic relationship examples

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 tubeworm also provides the symbionts with oxygen which it needs to combine with the hydrogen sulfide for energy. This oxygen comes from the ocean surface. The tube worm provides the perfect place for bacteria to get both oxygen and hydogen sulfide which are often difficult to find in one place.

Microbe with no Name Bacteria that live inside tube worms have no name yet. Like the majority of all microbes, this one has no name because it cannot be grown in the lab.

Science Unsealed

Despite the difficulty of growing this microbe by itself, scinetists know a lot about this microbes physiology, ecology, and some of its DNA sequences. Soon, this bacterium will be given a name and its relatives will be learned because of a new way to identify microbes. This technique, called DNA sequencing, allows scientists to take a small bit of DNA from the microbe in question, sequence it, and compare this sequence to all other known microbes.

chemosynthetic bacteria and tubeworms symbiotic relationship examples

This microbe may be closely related to a bacterium we already know or it could be something completely new. Calvin cycle - a set of chemical reactions that creates carbohydrates from carbon dioxide. In determining a microbes identity, the section of DNA encodes a gene found in all living organisms, in this case the small subunit of the ribosome, the organelle used to make proteins.

Riftia pachyptila Symbiosis with Thioautotrophic Bacteria

Sugar is a carbohydrate. Symbiosis can occur between any two kinds of organisms, such as two species of animals, an animal and microbes, a plant and a fungus, or a single-celled organism such as a protist and bacteria.

Possible Symbiotic Microorganisms

In other cases, it is very difficult. The algae live inside the coral polyp and perform photosynthesis, converting energy from the sun and carbon dioxide into organic matter and chemical energy. In the process, they give off oxygen and other nutrients that the coral needs to live. The coral polyp provides its zooxanthellae with carbon dioxide, shelter, and some nutrients. Mutualistic relationships also occur in the deep ocean, between microbes and a wide range of animals including corals, tubeworms, and mussels.

Many of these are found at cold seeps or at hydrothermal vents. Sunlight cannot penetrate into the deep ocean, so the organisms that live there cannot do photosynthesis. They must rely on a different source of energy.

At cold seeps and hydrothermal vents, there are many chemicals that microbes can use to create food and energy. Hydrogen sulfide the stuff that smells like rotten eggs and methane are two of the most common of these. Where hydrogen sulfide is present in the seafloor around cold seeps, tubeworms are often found growing in clusters of thousands of individuals. These unusual animals do not have a mouth, stomach, or gut.

Instead, they have a large organ called a trophosome that contains billions of chemosynthetic bacteria.

  • Parasitism and mutualism

In some cases, the trophosome accounts for more than half the weight of the tubeworm.