In exploring the hydrothermal vent ecosystems on this #MicrobialMysteries expedition, the researchers have seen many colonies of tubeworms. These are amazing creatures: tubeworms may be the fastest growing marine invertebrates on Earth, and in the deep sea they can grow up to 2 meters tall.
They are mouthless, gutless, and get all their energy from symbiotic bacteria that live inside them. Their beautiful branched plumes function like modified gills, taking in sulfide and oxygen from their environment. Like trees and plants on land, tubeworms absorb carbon dioxide, and the bacteria they host processes it into organic matter. How this unusual symbiosis works in the deep sea is a real mystery. Find out more in the video update below: