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Investigating the world of microbes with ROV Jason

In July 2023, researchers from #WHOI and Texas A&M University explored Axial Seamount with the underwater robot ROV Jason. Located 300 miles off of the Oregon coast, the area is home to many active hydrothermal vents: deep-sea hot springs where super-heated water from Earth’s interior mixes with cold seawater to create oases of life.

At the Castle vent, scientists filmed the filamentous bacteria and purple microeukaryotic colonial mats that you see in this video. These otherworldly scenes are made possible by microbes, which convert chemicals in hydrothermal fluid into organic carbon. This “chemosynthesis” is similar to photosynthesis, but happens without sunlight– and could be essential to the global carbon cycle.

“The whole ocean food web is driven by microbes,” says WHOI deep-sea microbiologist Julie Huber. “We understand that very well in the surface ocean. Now we’re trying to understand how it works in the dark at the bottom of the ocean.”

📹 captured by ROVJason as part of the #PROTATAX23 expedition, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF OCE Award #1947776).

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