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The Lost City hydrothermal field’s most famous residents are methanogenic archaea. These methane-producing microbes grow thick, snotty biofilms all over the hydrothermal vent chimneys. But despite their success, a new study suggests these methanogens may be poorly equipped to colonize new chimneys, and may rely on nearby bacterial species to provide key carbon compounds.
DCO members Susan Lang (University of South Carolina, USA) Gretchen Früh-Green, Stefano Bernasconi, (both at ETH-Zurich, Switzerland), William Brazelton (University of Utah, USA), and Matthew Schrenk (Michigan State University, USA) investigated carbon cycling and microbial metabolism at the Lost City hydrothermal field. They applied genomic and isotopic techniques to previously collected hydrothermal vent samples to see how the community metabolizes formate, an organic acid formed from carbon from the mantle. The researchers discovered that methanogens could not use formate directly, but instead consumed carbon liberated by sulfate-reducing bacteria in the chimney. They report these findings in a new paper in Scientific Reports.
Read more here.