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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999 May;65(5):2253-5.

Rapid microbial production of filamentous sulfur mats at hydrothermal vents

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  • 1Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA.


During recent oceanographic cruises to Pacific hydrothermal vent sites (9 degrees N and the Guaymas Basin), the rapid microbial formation of filamentous sulfur mats by a new chemoautotrophic, hydrogen sulfide-oxidizing bacterium was documented in both in situ and shipboard experiments. Observations suggest that formation of these sulfur mats may be a factor in the initial colonization of hydrothermal surfaces by macrofaunal Alvinella worms. This novel metabolic capability, previously shown to be carried out by a coastal strain in H2S continuous-flow reactors, may be an important, heretofore unconsidered, source of microbial organic matter production at deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

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