Author: Todd Woody
As the threat of seabed mining looms ever larger for the deep ocean, scientists have discovered that seafloor sediments are home to vast populations of previously unknown organisms that may play a crucial role in carbon sequestration and marine food webs.
When researchers analyzed DNA sequences taken from sediment samples from around the world, they were astonished to find that nearly two-thirds were new to science, representing entire families of undescribed life forms.
The scientists determined that the biodiversity of tiny marine critters in seabed sediments was at least three times greater than in the ocean above. In addition to the potential role this newly discovered microbial life could have in carbon storage, it may also have unknown pharmaceutical value. Geomicrobiologist Nagissa Mahmoudi says that “because we don’t know enough about it, we should make more of an effort to conserve these areas.”
The discoveries come as efforts to strip-mine the seabed for valuable minerals used to make electric car batteries are accelerating.
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