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Chemosynthesis is the conversion of carbon compounds and other molecules into organic compounds.In this biochemical reaction, methane or an inorganic compound, such as hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen gas, is oxidized to act as the energy source.
The energy source for chemosynthesis may be elemental sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, molecular hydrogen, ammonia, manganese, or iron.
Examples of chemoautotrophs include bacteria and methanogenic archaea living in deep sea vents.
Using hydrogen sulfide as the energy source, the reaction for chemosynthesis is: This is much like the reaction to produce carbohydrate via photosynthesis, except photosynthesis releases oxygen gas, while chemosynthesis yields solid sulfur.
The yellow sulfur granules are visible in the cytoplasm of bacteria that perform the reaction.
While the term "chemosynthesis" is most often applied to biological systems, it can be used more generally to describe any form of chemical synthesis brought about by random thermal motion of reactants.
In contrast, mechanical manipulation of molecules to control their reaction is called "mechanosynthesis".The word "chemosynthesis" was originally coined by Wilhelm Pfeffer in 1897 to describe energy production by oxidation of inorganic molecules by autotrophs (chemolithoautotrophy).Under the modern definition, chemosynthesis also describes energy production via chemoorganoautotrophy.Another example of chemosynthesis was discovered in 2013 when bacteria were found living in basalt below the sediment of the ocean floor.These bacteria were not associated with a hydrothermal vent.In addition to bacterial and archaea, some larger organisms rely on chemosynthesis.A good example is the giant tube worm which is found in great numbers surrounding deep hydrothermal vents.Each worm houses chemosynthetic bacteria in an organ called a trophosome.The bacteria oxidize sulfur from the worm's environment to produce the nourishment the animal needs.In contrast, the energy source for photosynthesis (the set of reactions through which carbon dioxide and water are converted into glucose and oxygen) uses energy from sunlight to power the process.The idea that microorganisms could live on inorganic compounds was proposed by Sergei Nikolaevich Vinogradnsii (Winogradsky) in 1890, based on research conducted on bacteria which appeared to live from nitrogen, iron, or sulfur.