In the dark depths of the Pacific Ocean, next to a volcano beneath a piping heat, about 300 new lifeforms have been discovered, a team of international researchers has found hundreds of microbial organisms living in the warm hydroelectric vents of a deep-sea volcano in northeastern New Zealand, about 1,830 meters (6,000 000 feet) below the surface of the water. The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documented more than 90 new species of microbes in the Brothers volcanic hot springs, along with more than 90 bacteria and endemic families.
Hydroelectric-activated submarine volcanoes are low vents of groundwater that can disperse magma as well as acidic or alkaline water that is extremely hot. It may not sound like a welcome place for life, but these germs are the ultimate substance that thrives in environments that once thought to be incapable of sustaining life.
Louise Reysenbach, Professor of Microbiology at Portland State University, said in a statement, “Everywhere warm spring microbes derive some energy from the geochemistry of hot water / liquids. It’s the same with Brothers volcanic marine warm water.”
In their study of the way, brothers live in volcanoes, researchers found different communities of two microorganisms that vary due to differences in the temperature and acidity of the surrounding water. Unexpectedly, however, these very different microbial communities have found to live in close proximity to each other along the outer wall of the volcano.
Many scientists have speculated that all life on Earth originated from deep-sea vents, underwater geysers that pump water that heated to high temperatures by magma and other geological processes. Therefore, the theory says, vents create a petri dish where seawater meets the minerals in the planet’s crust and reacts to create a warm, alkaline environment with hydrogen.
It would be an ideal place for the formation of protocells, which considered as an important step in the development of cell-based life. As further proof of this idea, some of the oldest fossils in this type of hydrothermal vent have discovered.
In addition to increasing our perceptions of our lives on Earth, the researchers say, this new study of the Brothers volcano could also teach us about other extreme environments on our planet.
Mircea Podar, study author from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said in another statement, “We’re going to a place where germs can be very informative about the environment they came from and even reflect something from the past.” “With more data, we can use microbes as a proxy to characterize environments where capturing traditional theoretical measurements is challenging.”