Deep-sea Chemosynthetic Holobionts

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Evolution of deep-sea chemosynthetic holobionts

Since the discovery of the gutless Rifita pachyptila at hydrothermal vents near the Galapogos in 1977, scientists have realized that chemosynthetic symbioses between marine invertebrates and bacteria are ubiquitous in natural ecosystems, ranging from hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, organic falls, mud volcanoes to shallow water sediments. Chemosynthetic symbioses can facilitate specialized deep-sea communities and have important roles in maintaining alpha and beta biodiversity, thereby facilitating adaptive radiation and evolutionary novelty. We use genomic tools to elucidate potential mechanisms used to allow chemosynthetically dependent holobionts adapt to, and evolve in, extreme deep-sea environments.