Tiny, shrimplike amphipods living in the Mariana Trench were contaminated at levels similar to those found in crabs living in waters fed by one of China's most polluted rivers. This could be a method of producing industrial ethanol without corn or sugarcane, which puts pressure on the global food supply. var __SPECTOR_Origin_EXTENSION_GetContext = HTMLCanvasElement.prototype.getContext; Analysis of the Mariana Trench amphipods revealed the scavengers harbor powerful wood-busting enzymes that can digest "wood fall"—tree and plant debris swept into the ocean that occasionally sinks. if (!arguments.length) { var spector; (See "Pictures: 'Supergiant,' Shrimp-Like Beasts Found in Deep Sea."). 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Amphipods in the Mariana Trench. In addition to shedding light on amphipods, the discovery may one day help produce ethanol for biomass energy, Kobayashi said. But unlike other deep-sea species, H. gigas does not seem to cultivate fungi or bacteria to aid its digestion. } We have now discovered the Mariana Trench also has snailfish, in high densities at 7000 to … This had scientists stumped—how do the amphipods get the nutrition to become relatively giant? Exactly how the giant amphipods of the hadal zone survive the immense pressure is still unknown for the most part. The specimens of Hirondellea gigas were collected in 2009 in the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep, Earth's deepest point and the same location of National Geographic explorer and filmmaker James Cameron's record-breaking dive in March 2012. Back in the lab, the research team identified the wood-digesting enzymes, which worked even better when the scientists re-created the high-pressure conditions of the deep ocean. At room temperature, one of the newfound wood-eating enzymes, a type of cellulase, broke down a sheet of plain paper into the simple sugar glucose, which can then be used to make ethanol. window.__SPECTOR_Canvases = []; if (context === null) { } Ultimately, the scientists found that the pollution was omnipresent and that it could be found in “in all samples across all species at all depths in both trenches.” Join our community. The researchers sampled 90 amphipods from the MarianaTrench and five other oceanic trenches. ‘Sea Stories’ | Beautiful storytelling & photography, straight to your inbox, Join our community, stories straight to your inbox. var context = null; From there it finds its way into rivers and then into the ocean. document.dispatchEvent(myEvent); Researchers have uncovered the presence of plastic in a previously unknown species of deep-sea amphipods, which was discovered in the Mariana Trench – the deepest trench in the world. Deep-sea, shrimp-like crustaceans get big by munching on sunken wood, even from shipwrecks, according to a new study of amphipods. Beautiful ocean stories straight to your inbox. Plastics are in the air that we breathe, in the water that we drink and now also in animals that live far away from human civilisation.”. var contextNames = ["webgl", "experimental-webgl", "webgl2", "experimental-webgl2"]; } Dr. this.id = "Offscreen"; The researchers officially named the species Eurythenes plasticus in reference to the plastic it has ingested. Three species of the lysianassoid amphipods (two Hirondellea sp. Footage from the University of Aberdeen’s Hadal-Lander. var captureOnLoad = false; if (arguments.length === 1) { “The newly discovered species Eurythenes plasticus shows us how far-reaching the consequences of our inadequate handling of plastic waste truly is,” said Heike Vesper, Director of the Marine Programme at WWF Germany. "We think the amphipods make the enzymes themselves in their gut," said Kobayashi, whose study appeared August 15 in the journal PLoS ONE. For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here or on one of the images below: //