Microbiology

Bacterial Life in the Deepest Ocean Trenches



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The deepest spot on Earth is the Mariana Trench. Here an active community of bacteriaand organisms thrive and survive. This leads researchers to believe that in other ocean trenches there are hot spots of microbial life. Life in the ocean depths relies on organic matter and particles that waft down. Scientists still do not know how much organic matter makes it to the deepest parts of the ocean. Life does flourish in the dirt in the deepest trenches.

On the Mariana seafloor, there is a very high concentration of oxygen. This is what points to a microbial community. Sediments also showed higher levels of microbes and organic compounds. This trench acts as a natural trap for sediments that come from the surface of the ocean. In submarine canyons, there are similar effects. The Mariana Trench is located in the subduction zone. This is the place where the tectonic plate makes up the surface of the Earth. It is a very unstable area of mudslides and earthquakes.

Earthquakes and mudslides aid in transporting the organic matter into the deep trench. Microbes continue to thrive by living off the energy from chemical reactions between water and rock. The microbes are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. They can survive in any place. Bacterial activity is continuously being studied in other trenches of the ocean.

The genetics of the bacteria in the Mariana Trench are compared to other bacteria in other trenches. The deepest part of the ocean is also the darkest. In this place, there is extreme pressure and isolation from the ocean surface. The bacteria that live here use more oxygen than bacteria located in shallow areas. It is a very challenging environment at the bottom of the seafloor, but organisms thrive there. The pressure on the ocean floor is so strong that it can flatten a person and this makes the area really hard to visit and study. Key instruments that are in pressure-resistant cylinders are sent down to gather information, pictures and more.

Carbon-rich material, like dead organisms or fish and algae, float to the deep from the surface of the ocean and act as a food supply for the bacteria that live there. Scientists are still trying to understand how these trenches get so much carbon. Carbon dioxide is a key greenhouse gas and deep-sea microbes turn organic matter into carbon dioxide. This means the oceans exchange carbon with the atmosphere.

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