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This water - which can reach temperatures of 400°C - eventually rises back through the ocean floor, erupting as a geyser from a hydrothermal vent.The dissolved minerals and metals precipitate on contact with the cold sea water, forming a chimney around the vent. When scientists first discovered these vents in the 1970s, they were amazed to find thriving communities of shrimp, crabs, giant tubeworms, clams, slugs, anemones, and fish.Chemical-harvesting microorganisms are found in different habitats all over the world, and they are essential to the hydrothermal vent ecosystem.
Hydrogen sulfide is highly toxic to most animals, including people.
However, animals at hydrothermal vents have special biochemical adaptations that protect them from hydrogen sulfide.
These compounds—such as hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen gas, ferrous iron and ammonia—lack carbon.
The microbes release new compounds after chemosynthesis, some of which are toxic, but others can be taken in nutritionally by other organisms.
It's this process that gives the microbe its name: has been isolated from hydrothermal sediments at Kolbeinsey Ridge off the coast of Iceland and the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California.
In the laboratory its cells can even divide at 122°C, the highest temperature known to be compatible with microbial growth, though it grows best at 98°C.
Extremophiles might have been among the earliest life forms on earth and have possible uses in industry.
It’s possible that someday we may find extremophiles living on other planets.
There, mineral-laden fluid is emitted either as a warm (5-100 degrees Celsius/41-212 degrees Fahrenheit), diffuse flow from seabed cracks or as plumes of superheated water (250-400 degrees Celsius/482-752 degrees Fahrenheit) from chimney-like structures.
These structures are referred to as hydrothermal vents, and the assortment of animals surrounding them are referred to as hydrothermal vent communities.