Venus hair bacteria colonised underwater volcano after eruption

Apr 24, 2017

By Sam Wong

Gone today, hair tomorrow. Soon after an underwater volcano erupted and wiped out all nearby life forms, hardy bacteria moved in and covered the area in a huge mat of hair-like filaments.

These strange colonies were found by an expedition to Tagoro Volcano, near the Canary Islands, in 2014, two years after an eruption that reshaped 9 square kilometres of the sea floor. The researchers explored the area via a robotic submarine equipped with cameras and arms for collecting samples.

“Something very strange appeared to us: a very nice picturesque coverage of very long white filaments which were very unusual. It was the first time we had seen something like that,” says Roberto Danovaro of the Polytechnic University of Marche, Italy.

They named the organism Venus’s hair, recalling Botticelli’s painting of the goddess Venus emerging from the sea.

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One comment on “Venus hair bacteria colonised underwater volcano after eruption”

  • @OP – These strange colonies were found by an expedition to Tagoro Volcano, near the Canary Islands, in 2014, two years after an eruption that reshaped 9 square kilometres of the sea floor.

    Where there are life supporting resources, primary colonisers usually establish themselves quickly, and are then slowly followed by secondary and tertiary growth.

    You can see this on land where soil is ploughed up by tractors, landslides, floods, etc. and the colonising “weeds” come in first, followed by grasses, shrubs, and a succession of trees.

    In areas such as lava flows in dry climates, the colonisation is much slower because one or more life support feature (such as water or nutrients) is missing, or if toxic materials need to be washed out by rain before generalist organisms can over-run extremophile primary colonists.



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