How do bacteria survive in hydrothermal vents?

Bacteria are tiny, single cells that comprise most life on the planet. And life on earth is made possible by the presence of water on the surface of our planet.

Microorganisms are known to be everywhere: in the air, water, soil, humans, and even in the deep sea.

Microorganisms, especially bacteria, are known to survive in various temperatures that vary from 0-35 °C.

Examples of such microorganisms are as follows;

  • 0 – 20℃ are psychrophies (pseudomonas, Vibrio bacillus, alcatigaes)
  • 20 – 45℃ are mesophiles (Bacillus, Escherichia coli, Neisseria gonorrhea)
  • 45 – 85℃ are thermophiles (Lactobacilli, Streptococci, Bifolobacteria)
  • 85 – 113℃ (pryolobus, pyrococcus, sulfolubus)

What is a hydrothermal vent?

Hydrothermal vents are naturally forming structures found in the ocean, they are like hot springs in the sea.

Hydrothermal vents are located where the tectonic plates are moving apart in the ocean. The crust is stretched, and in place, it breaks, forming cracks and tissues, and it expels a fluid that was heated to an extreme temperature; when allowed to cool, it forms magma.

Types of hydrothermal vents

  • Black smokers (hotter temperature)
  • White smokers (lower temperature)

How Do Bacteria Survive In Hydrothermal Vents?

Bacteria can survive in various temperatures using various mechanisms like the production of endospores, and slime layers. These are some mechanisms for survival in an environment of lesser temperature.

While hyperthermophiles are particularly extreme thermophiles for which the optimal temperature is above 800c, such bacteria are found in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Some of the locations where deep-sea hydrothermal vents are found are New Zealand, Japan, and Italy.

Most thermophiles and hyperthermophiles are Chemolitothrophs that feed on reduced sulfur compounds with electron acceptors like Oxygen or nitrate.

The effect of the reduction of sulfur compounds, makes the water very acidic, indicating that bacteria found in hydrothermal vents are acid-loving bacteria due to the absence of sunlight on ocean floors.

Some examples of bacteria found in hydrothermal vents are Metanopyrus Kandlen, Strain 121.


Bacteria are ubiquitous living organisms capable of inhibiting every habitat through various mechanisms and adapting to any environmental factor discovered over time.


Last Updated on July 12, 2023 by Our Editorial Team

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