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The hot, mineral-rich fluids circulating within hydrothermal vent systems along the seafloor are one of the top contenders for the location of life’s origin. But despite being an enduring host for life, scientists know little about the evolutionary forces that shape the microbes living in these dynamic habitats.
DCO Deep Life Community members Rika Anderson, (Carleton College, USA), Julie Huber (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, USA), and Julie Reveillaud (CIRAD, France), and Deep Energy Community members Jill McDermott (University of Toronto, Canada) and Jeffrey Seewald (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA), investigated how microbes are evolving within these systems. The researchers collected fluids from two adjacent but geochemically distinct hydrothermal vents and sequenced all the DNA in the samples to create a metagenome. Their analysis showed that the two vents were experiencing different evolutionary pressures, due to challenges in their environments that affect how the microbes evolve. They also identified a recent bloom of bacteria, possibly related to acquisition of new genes to avoid viral infections. They report their findings in a new paper in Nature Communications.
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