a1 Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA, UK
a2 Deep Tek Ltd, Kilburns House, Newport on Tay, Fife, DD6 8PL, UK
Specimens of the vestimentiferan tubeworm Lamellibrachia sp. were collected from the wreck of the SS ‘Persia’ at 2800 m depth south-east of Crete, in association with decomposing paper in the ship's mailroom. Anaerobic breakdown of cellulose by bacterial consortia including sulphate-reducers is proposed as the source of sulphide required by Lamellibrachia's chemoautotrophic symbionts. Timing of wreck colonization is unknown but observed tube dimensions suggest growth rates at least equal to those measured for Lamellibrachia luymesi at Gulf of Mexico hydrocarbon seeps. The organic substrate supporting vestimentiferan growth in the ‘Persia’ is remarkable in consisting of highly refractory, human-modified terrestrial plant material. This record therefore expands the range of energy sources known to support chemosynthetic communities at the deep-sea floor.
(Received September 01 2005)
(Accepted November 25 2005)
(Online publication January 18 2006)