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Photosynthesis from Geothermal Illumination

9 May 2013, 08:41 UTC
Photosynthesis from Geothermal Illumination
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Photosynthesis can occur in the absence of sunlight. Beatty et al (2005) discovered a species of phototrophic sulphur bacteria from a deep-sea hydrothermal vent located 2400 metres beneath the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Mexico. At such depths, there is virtually no sunlight since sunlight can only penetrate down to a few hundred metres into the ocean. This species of bacteria is a type of green sulphur bacteria which performs photosynthesis using the faint light emitted by the hot hydrothermal vent. The green sulphur bacterium harvests the minuscule amount of light that is available to oxidize sulphur compounds to reduce carbon dioxide to produce organic material. It achieves photosynthetic growth at extremely low light intensities.Cardenas et al (2013) performed a quantitative assessment of the photosynthetic potential around deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Here, the photons of light required for photosynthesis comes from hot water. This is because anything with a temperature will emit radiation. For example, as the temperature of an object goes up, it begins to glow from dark red, to red, to orange, and so on; emitting more radiation as the temperature increases. Likewise, hot water spewing out from a hydrothermal vent will emit radiation, with most of it ...

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