seepiophila-jonesi
Figure 1. Size of S. jonesi.

How long do they live? They are smaller than Lamellibrachia luymesi, but the individuals that reach 1 meter in length may be over 250 years old. They are extremely slow growing, possibly to avoid competing for nutrients with L. luymesi  [1]. There is very little known about these tube worms, but they lack the typical characteristics of aging, termed negligible senescence.

MAEC_112_f1
Figure 2. Even the ocean floor can get crowded.

Where are they found? 500 feet to 1000 feet down on the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico. They live in something called cold seeps along with the larger tube worms, L. luymesi. These cold seeps are important for how the tube worms take in nutrients [1].

What do they eat? Like their buddies, L. luymesi, they don’t. They absorb hydrogen sulfide from the sea floor, which is broken down by bacteria that live within them. Although even less is known about this process than their larger roommates.

What do they look like? They are smaller than L. luymesi and  sedentary creatures that do not have a mouth or gut. They live in large groups in association with L. Luymesi and can cover huge areas of the sea floor. See figures 1 and 2.

How do they reproduce? Researchers are not sure, mainly because studying creatures that live on the ocean floor is a bit tough. What we do know is that there are males and females that produce eggs and sperm. Eggs are fertilized internally and then released into their surroundings [2].

How do scientists know how old they are? They use something called chitin staining to stain the tube worms and then construct population growth models to estimate age based on the size of the worm [1].

So what are we lacking? There’s no information regarding the nuclear genome of Seepiophila jonesi on NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) . There is, however, information on the NCBI regarding the mitochondrial genome. Actually, there’s a whole lot we don’t know about these deep sea creatures.

Please contact me if you have information regarding how this species ages, or rather how they do not seem to age at all.

 

  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. Gardiner, Stephen L., Erin McMullin, and Charles R. Fisher. “Seepiophila jonesi, a new genus and species of vestimentiferan tube worm (Annelida: Pogonophora) from hydrocarbon seep communities in the Gulf of Mexico.”PROCEEDINGS-BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON 114.3 (2001): 694-707.