Bacteria that survive over 4000 meters (2.5 miles) under the Pacific Ocean absorb an estimated 10 percent of the carbon…
Bacteria that survive over 4000 meters (2.5 miles) under the Pacific Ocean absorb an estimated 10 percent of the carbon dioxide that the oceans take away from the atmosphere each year.
The team “discovered that benthic bacteria absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide and assimilate it to its biomass through an unknown process. It was completely unexpected,” says study writer Andrew Sweetman in a statement. ” Their biomass becomes so potentially a source of food for other animals in the deep sea, so actually what we have discovered is a potential alternative source of food in the deepest parts of the ocean, where we thought there was no one. “
Writing in Oceanography and Limnology, The Scientist says bentic bacteria, rather than the seabed, may be the” main organisms “that consume organic waste that flows down to the seabed.
To investigate the cellular processes of benthic organisms, the team analyzed sediment samples taken from an area of the eastern Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Mexico, is called the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone (CCFZ), a deep sea ecosystem completely out of light but for blinking of bioluminescence and with a surprisingly biodiversity marine-based environment. Bacteria here dominated the consumption of organic waste over just one or two days. By scaling their results, it corresponds to approximately 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide that can be added to biomass annually, making the region a potentially important fixture in the deep-sea cycle.
“We found the same activity at multiple places of study separated by hundreds of kilometers, so we can reasonably assume that This happens on the seabed in Eastern CCFZ and possibly throughout the CCFZ, “says Sweetman.
Polymetallic nodules from 5000 meters below the Pacific Ocean. MonumentalArt / Shutterstock
CCFZ is home to more than just deep-sea mushrooms, sea anemones, shrimp and octopods. The clay-like muddy bottom is filled with trillions of potato-size polymetallic tubers containing deposits of nickel, manganese, copper, zinc, cobalt and other minerals, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. It is an area rich in minerals that the International Maritime Administration has assigned 16 exploration agreements for groups of interest
Assuming that the results can be applied to larger CCFZ, the authors say that their results can have consequences for mineral extraction in this region.
“If mining continues in CCFZ, it will be seriously disturbing the marine environment,” said Sweetman. “Only four experiments similar to ours have been implemented in situ in the sea’s abyssal regions; We need to know more about abyssal seabed biology and ecology before we even consider breaking the region. “