The giant tubeworms found at the hydrothermal vents are completely
dependent on their bacterial endosymbionts for nutrition. By exploring
the genetics of this symbiotic relationship, we hope to gain insights
into the origin, evolution, and physiological maintenance of these
tightly coupled microbial-invertebrate communities.
This research represents the interdisciplinary linking of deep-sea
biology and state-of-the-art biotechnology. Our work is the first
high-throughput genomic scale work attempted in the deep-sea environment
and is laying the groundwork for future environmental genomic studies.
Our work also demonstrates the potential for conducting highly detailed
genetic studies on uncultivated microbes. By further combining high-throughput
DNA sequencing studies with chip-based hybridization studies, this
research has tremendous promise for laying the foundations for dissecting
Earths biocomplexity, leading to a more comprehensive view
of Earths evolutionary and physiological dynamics.