Lamellibrachia2

How long do they live? These large creatures (over 3 meters in length) can live up to 250 years [1]. They are very slow growing and instead of growing throughout their lives, they have periodic growth spurts. They hold the longest lifespan recorded for animals without a backbone. These tube worms lack the typical characteristics of aging, termed negligible senescence. They do not show signs of decline in strength or an increased death rate with age.

Where are they found? Although they boast an impressive lifespan, they were not discovered until the 1980s about 400 feet to 1000 feet down on the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico. They live in something called cold seeps, which doesn’t mean that the water is colder in that area, it means that a vent in the area “seeps” out hydrocarbon rich fluids into the surroundings.  These cold seeps are important for how the tube worms take in nutrients [2].

What do they eat? Well, they don’t. Instead of taking in food like we do, L. luymesi absorb hydrogen sulfide from the sea floor, which is broken down by bacteria that live within them.

What do they look like? They are large,  sedentary creatures that do not have a mouth or gut. They grow from both ends of their body, which reaches up into the ocean and down into the ocean floor sediment. They live in large groups of up to 2,000 tube worms and can cover huge areas of the sea floor.

How do they reproduce? Well, that’s a tough question because they live at the bottom of the ocean. What we do know is that there are males and females that, like us, have eggs and sperm. What scientists are not so sure about is if the eggs are fertilized internally or externally. They show no reduction in reproductive capacity as they age.

How do scientists know how old they are? They use something called chitin staining to stain the tubes worms and then construct population growth models to estimate age based on the size of the worm [3].

So what are we lacking? There’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of Lamellibrachia luymesi on NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) . There is, however, information on the NCBI concerning the mitochondrial genome.

Please contact me if you have information regarding how this species ages, or rather thwarts aging.

 

  1. Cordes, Erik E., et al. “Patterns of growth in cold‐seep vestimenferans including Seepiophila jonesi: a second species of long‐lived tubeworm.”Marine Ecology 28.1 (2007): 160-168.

2. Boetius A (2005) Microfauna–Macrofauna Interaction in the Seafloor: Lessons from the Tubeworm. PLoS Biol 3(3): e102. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030102

3. Cordes, Erik E., et al. “Modeling the mutualistic interactions between tubeworms and microbial consortia.” PLoS Biol 3.3 (2005): e77.