Scientists have discovered deep-sea worms and bacteria that unite to collect methane. Previously, scientists did not understand why this type of worm is most often found near territories that are saturated with methane.
Scientists from the California Technical Institute found methane-fuel symbiosis of worms and bacteria on the ocean floor.
They said that bacteria belonging to the Methylococcaceae family settled in the respiratory organs of the Laminatubus and Bispira worms. They are methanotrophs – that is, they are able to use methane as the sole source of both carbon and energy.
A few centimeters long worms have been discovered near deep-sea methane holes at the bottom of the ocean, where hydrocarbon-rich liquids flow into the ocean. As it turned out, the worms slowly digest the bacteria and thus absorb the carbon and energy that they extract from methane.
“These worms have long been associated with methane, but the researchers did not understand how they are connected. Now we understand that they feed on bacteria and methane. They combine with microbes to use them for food”, the researchers note.