Mussels, crabs, and other emails living in ecosystem using oil as energy source

At asphalt volcanoes in the Gulf of Mexico that spew oil, gas and tar, mussels and sponges live in symbiosis with bacteria providing them with food. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and colleagues from the USA have now discovered deep-sea animals living in symbiosis with bacteria that use oil as an energy source and appear to thrive on short-chained alkanes in the oil. According to the researchers, bacteria closely related to the symbionts, which bloomed during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, used this ability to degrade the oil in the sea.

Oil forms the basis for a flourishing ecosystem of mussels, crabs, worms, sponges and many other animals.


The robotic arm of the remotely operated vehicle MARUM-Quest is shown collecting Cycloclasticus-bearing mussels and oil-rich asphalts at a site of active gas emission in 3000 meters water depth © MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen

Subscribe on Google News