Genomic secrets of organisms that thrive in extreme deep-sea

Date: March 29, 2021

Source: Science Daily

A study led by scientists at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has decoded the genomes of the deep-sea clam (Archivesica marissinica) and the chemoautotrophic bacteria (Candidatus Vesicomyosocius marissinica) that live in its gill epithelium cells. Through analysis of their genomic structures and profiling of their gene expression patterns, the research team revealed that symbiosis between the two partners enables the clams to thrive in extreme deep-sea environments.

The research findings have been published in the academic journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Due to the general lack of photosynthesis-derived organic matter, the deep-sea was once considered a vast “desert” with very little biomass. Yet, clams often form large populations in the high-temperature hydrothermal vents and freezing cold seeps in the deep oceans around the globe where sunlight cannot penetrate but toxic molecules, such as hydrogen sulfide, are available below the seabed. The clams are known to have a reduced gut and digestive system, and they rely on endosymbiotic bacteria to generate energy in a process called chemosynthesis. However, when this symbiotic relationship developed, and how the clams and chemoautotrophic bacteria interact, remain largely unclear.

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