Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EXO WORLDS
Texas A and M-Galveston team finds cave organisms living off methane gas
by Staff Writers
College Station TX (SPX) Dec 05, 2017


Bil Phillips, cave explorer, who was also a member of the Texas A and M-led team uses a flashlight and line to navigate the underwater cave.

In a surprising find deep in an underwater cave in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, a team of researchers led by a Texas A and M University at Galveston doctoral student have discovered that cave-adapted organisms can exist off of methane gas and the bacteria near it, and it raises the possibility that other life forms are also living this way in similar caves around the world.

David Brankovits, a student from Budapest, Hungary, who led the research for his Ph.D at Texas A and M-Galveston, and fellow researchers from Mexico, The Netherlands, Switzerland, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the U.S. Geological Survey, have had their work published in the current issue of Nature Communications.

The team examined flooded cave passages within the Ox Bel Ha cave network in the Yucatan where there is a mix of fresh and salt water. Methane in such caves tends to form naturally from surface vegetation and migrates through the limestone in deep waters of the cave network. They found that the methane gases in the area are an important food source for bacteria and other microbes that form the basis of the entire cave ecosystem.

The microbes consume both the methane in the water and other dissolved organic material produced in the overlying soils and permeable carbonate rock, and they form the basis of a food web that ranges from other tiny organisms to fairly large shrimp.

"Methane is the key - the cave organisms have to live off the methane gas, which caught us by surprise," explains Brankovits.

"In the studied system, cave-adapted organisms exist where there is no sunlight and virtually all food sources are present in dissolved forms. Without the presence of microbes that can utilize methane and other dissolved energy sources, these animals could not live otherwise. Previous studies had shown that food came from vegetation or other materials in the forest that washed into the caves, but we found very little of that type of debris."

Similar coastal cave ecosystems exist around the world. Brankovits says the next step is to do more research in similar cave systems found in the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean locations.

"There are other dissolved organic materials like natural acids and alcohols, down there that we are just now learning about, and we need to explore them in more detail. The results could be surprising," he notes.

Tom Iliffe, professor of marine biology at Texas A and M-Galveston and one of the most experienced cave divers in the world who was part of the research team, adds, "Providing a model for the basic function of this globally-distributed ecosystem is an important contribution to coastal groundwater ecology and establishes a baseline for evaluating how sea level rise, seaside touristic development and other stressors will impact the viability of these lightless, food-poor systems."

Research paper

EXO WORLDS
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula reveals a cryptic methane-fueled ecosystem in flooded caves
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 29, 2017
In the underground rivers and flooded caves of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where Mayan lore described a fantastical underworld, scientists have found a cryptic world in its own right. Here, methane and the bacteria that feed off it form the lynchpin of an ecosystem that is similar to what has been found in deep ocean cold seeps and some lakes, according to recent research by Texas A and M Univer ... read more

Related Links
Texas A and M University
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EXO WORLDS
Does the Outer Space Treaty at 50 need a rethink

NASA to send critical science, instruments to Space Station

New motion sensors major step towards cheaper wearable technology

Can a magnetic sail slow down an interstellar probe

EXO WORLDS
Russia to build launch pad for super heavy-lift carrier by 2028

Flat-Earther's self-launch plan hits a snag

Mechanisms are critical to all space vehicles

SSTL ships CARBONITE-2 and Telesat's LEO-1 for PSLV launch

EXO WORLDS
Gadgets for Mars

Ice shapes the landslide landscape on Mars

Winds Blow Dust off the Solar Panels Improving Energy Levels

Previous evidence of water on Mars now identified as grainflows

EXO WORLDS
Nation 'leads world' in remote sensing technology

China plans for nuclear-powered interplanetary capacity by 2040

China plans first sea based launch by 2018

China's reusable spacecraft to be launched in 2020

EXO WORLDS
Orbital ATK purchase by Northrop Grumman approved by shareholders

UK space launch program receives funding boost from Westminster

Need to double number of operational satellites: ISRO chief

Space Launch plans UK industry tour

EXO WORLDS
Device could reduce the carbon footprint of ethylene production

Researchers inadvertently boost surface area of nickel nanoparticles for catalysis

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

Study shows how to get sprayed metal coatings to stick

EXO WORLDS
Scallops have 200 eyes, which function like a telescope: study

Researchers prolong life by curbing common enzyme

Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula reveals a cryptic methane-fueled ecosystem in flooded caves

First known interstellar visitor is an 'oddball'

EXO WORLDS
Pluto's hydrocarbon haze keeps dwarf planet colder than expected

Jupiter's Stunning Southern Hemisphere

Watching Jupiter's multiple pulsating X-ray Aurora

Help Nickname New Horizons' Next Flyby Target




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement