Hydrothermal vents are ocean-floor openings in the Earth’s crust that emit hot, mineral-rich water. The bacteria, archaea, and other microorganisms of the microbial communities around these vents survive in very hot, high-pressure, and chemically-rich ecosystems. This means they hold clues for understanding how life thrives in extreme environments.
At these vents, and underwater volcanoes, researchers studied microbial communities across five oceanic regions. In doing so, they found a high degree of variability in the types of microorganisms that inhabit these sites, as well as the way in which those microorganisms break down nutrients, grow and repair themselves or eliminate waste. Learn more on the JGI’s website.