Who’s running this show?: A physiologist’s perspective on how host-symbiont interactions and physiology influence vent ecosystem ecology.

Chemoautotrophic endosymbioses from hydrothermal vents and other reducing environments have been well studied over the last thirty years. To date, we have a reasonable understanding of the morphological arrangement of host and symbiont, the gross physiology and biochemistry of several, well studied associations, and -broadly speaking- the ecology of chemoautotrophic symbioses and associated fauna. Nevertheless, there are major aspects of their morphology, physiology and ecology that remain poorly understood. For example, some chemoautotrophic associations exhibit striking morphological plasticity, though it is unclear as to what factor(s) govern the observed phenotypic differences. Key aspects of chemoautotrophic sulfur metabolism remain to be examined. The degree to which host immunological activity governs symbiont activity or population dynamics is also poorly understood. Finally, the extent to which these processes govern the ecology of vent organisms must be further considered, as they may well shed light on previously inexplicable patterns observed in situ. Here we will consider the recent advances in our study of chemoautotrophic symbioses, discuss future directions, and present a model of how these processes might influence the ecology and evolution of chemoautotrophic symbioses.

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Trophic relations (including symbiosis)
Ecological Interactions
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