Re: [Aroid-l] OT: Fungi that eat ionizing radiation?
- Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] OT: Fungi that eat ionizing radiation?
- From: Ron Kaufmann <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 13:34:32 -0700
The melanin story is very interesting, and if it's true that
melanin changes in response to ionizing radiation exposure and may
facilitate survival of organisms under conditions that otherwise might
be lethal, the repercussions could be many and far-reaching. Cool
As for the National Geographic special, I'd like to address a few
factual issues in what you wrote. First, there are *many* areas of the
ocean where hydrothermal vents are spewing hot, mineral-rich water into
the deep sea. The existence of biological communities around many of
those vent sites has been known for 30 years, and many vent communities
and organisms have been studied extensively. The word "noxious" to
describe some of the chemicals that are released by vents is somewhat
human-centered. For example, many organisms that live in anoxic
conditions might describe oxygen as "noxious". :-) Second, the
communities around deep-sea hydrothermal vents are indeed supported by
primary producers (mostly bacteria) that use "noxious" hydrogen sulfide
or methane as energy sources. It's a fascinating system that prior to
30 years ago would have been considered science fiction!
Finally, the issue of organisms living in nearly 800 degree
Fahrenheit water was a subject of controversy among the biologists who
first studied the vent systems. The deep sea is, for the most part,
very cold (1-2 deg C = 34-36 deg F), and it turns out that temperature
gradients near hot vents are *extremely* steep. The water coming out
of a vent may approach 800 deg F (over 400 deg C) at the hottest sites,
but a few inches away the temperature may be a relatively mild 125-160
deg F (50-70 deg C). Most hydrothermal vent organisms seem to live on
the fringes of the hot water plume, not within the hottest water.
Far be it for me to discredit or vouch for any of
this! But I did find it interesting due to another interest dear to my
heart. I'm one of less than a thousand people in the world who can
document having logged over 5000 scuba dives. My time in the water as
a professional underwater photographer included time in a deep
submersible. Never got to go down to the deep water in the
mid-Atlantic rift or the really deep water off Galapagos but I recently
saw a National Geographic special which featured deep ocean dives to
both areas of the ocean where live volcanoes are constantly spewing on
the ocean floor. The National Geographic team found large incredible
marine life actually using the noxious gasses produced by these
volcanoes as a food source. And to top that, many were living in water
with a temp approaching 800 degrees! Some were photographed crawling
into vents so hot it was actually burning them alive and they were
happily gathering and eating the stuff!
Nothing ought to be able to live in complete
darkness, with extremely high temperatures while using "poisons" as
food, but they do! So I don't have any idea if anything in this
article is factual, but apparently life can and does exist in places we
would not have previously expected it to survive. Perhaps the "Blob"
exists as well!
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