Riftia pachyptila Symbiosis with Thioautotrophic Bacteria

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Introduction

The functioning of an ecosystem depends upon the presence of organisms that can fix carbon dioxide to organic carbon. In environments without solar radiation, primary production depends on the processes of chemolithoautotrophs – chemosynthetic organisms which oxidize inorganic compounds to synthesize the NADPH and ATP needed to reduce carbon dioxide. The <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_tube_worm">Riftia pachyptila</a>, commonly known as the giant tube worm, has taken advantage of the ability of such chemolithoautotrophs, specifically thioautotrophic bacteria, and serves as a model organism for the study of host-symbiont co-evolution in deep-sea ocean vents.