‘Hydrogen is an energy source for hydrothermal vent symbioses’

by Shank Lab Journal Club


Authors: Jillian M. Petersen,Frank U. Zielinski,Thomas Pape, Richard Seifert, Cristina Moraru,Rudolf Amann, Stephane Hourdez,Peter R. Girguis,Scott D. Wankel,Valerie Barbe,Eric Pelletier, Dennis Fink, Christian Borowski,Wolfgang Bach & Nicole Dubilier

Abstract: The discovery of deep-sea hydrothermal vents in 1977 revolutionized our understanding of the energy sources that fuel primary productivity on Earth. Hydrothermal vent ecosystems are dominated by animals that live in symbiosis with chemosynthetic bacteria. So far, only two energy sources have been shown to power chemosynthetic symbioses: reduced sulphur compounds and methane. Using metagenome sequencing, single-gene fluorescence in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry, shipboard incubations and in situ mass spectrometry, we show here that the symbionts of the hydrothermal vent mussel Bathymodiolus from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge use hydrogen to power primary production. In addition, we show that the symbionts of Bathymodiolus mussels from Pacific vents have hupL, the key gene for hydrogen oxidation. Furthermore, the symbionts of other vent animals such as the tubeworm Riftia pachyptila and the shrimp Rimicaris exoculataalso have hupL. We propose that the ability to use hydrogen as an energy source is widespread in hydrothermal vent symbioses, particularly at sites where hydrogen is abundant.

Presented by Taylor Heyl on 2011/09/07