, Volume 102, Issue 3, pp 425-429

Hydrothermal vent communities at the shallow subpolar Mid-Atlantic ridge

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A new type of animal community has been found near hot vents in the subpolar Atlantic at 100 to 106 m depth off Kolbeinsey on the Jan-Mayen ridge. Incubation of high temperature fluids yielded cultures of undescribed hyperthermophilic eu- and archaebacteria, growing in a temperature range between 70° and 110°C depending on the isolates. Bacteria are closely related to species occurring within deep sea hydrothermal areas. In contrast to deep-sea vent sites of the Mid-Atlantic and other oceans, the Kolbeinsey macro- and meiofauna consists of species reported from non-vent areas in the boreal Atlantic and adjacent polar seas. The most abundant forms are a solitary hydroid polyp and two sponges. Kolbeinsey is an isolated and young area of hydrothermal activity at relatively low depth and in highly productive waters; these findings could indicate a model for an early evolutionary step towards the formation of a genuine specialized vent community.

Communicated by O. Kinne, Oldendorf/Luhe