Bottom worms have tamed bacteria and learned to feed on methane

Marine biologists have shown that marine polychaetes,
living in areas enriched with methane that enters into symbiosis with bacteria
oxidizing the methane, and at their expense, in fact, themselves feed on methane. As explained
the authors of the article in Science Advances, is one of the few known examples of the use of
methane multicellular organisms. Apparently, benthic animal communities and
microorganisms make important contributions to maintaining the balance of methane, which
is a dangerous greenhouse gas.

Methane is among the three most important greenhouse gases
accelerating the warming of the planet. The cycle of methane in the biosphere is largely a result of the
due to the microorganisms that are able to produce and to oxidize
methane. However, the influx of methane also occurs due to economic activities
human and geological processes, including seepage of methane from under the ocean floor, where it is in large quantities concentrated in
the form of methane hydrates.

Deep sea areas where methane seeps, call
methane seeps, they are also characterized by particular ecological community. In
particularly, there are capable of methane oxidation bacteria (methanotrophs), and
a few species of animals that benefit from a symbiosis with these
bacteria. These animals are separate species of pogonophora, shellfish and
sponges.

Researchers from California noticed that
the district SIPA methane off the West coast of Costa Rica at a depth of nearly two
kilometers in a large number of live several species of sedentary polychaete
worms of the families Serpulidae and Sabellidae, namely, representatives
birth Laminatubus and Bispira.

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