An island emerged from nowhere with life forms never seen before, only to disappear again
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai Island that appeared in the kingdom of tonga seven years ago thanks to the eruptions of Surtseyan revealed to scientists colonies of microbacterial life of unique origins and metabolic capabilities. Nevertheless, the island disappeared on January 15, 2022 by the massive volcanic eruption of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano,
According to scientists, the island was colonized by diverse microbial communities shortly after its formation in 2015. Among the discoveries were 100 taxa or groups of related organisms, of which 40% could not be classified into a bacterial family.
In addition to having unique metabolic characteristics such as being able to survive on newly formed terrain, thanks to the ability to generate energy through the metabolism of sulfur and trace gases.
Although the destruction of the island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai makes it impossible to continue with the studies, the data obtained by the researchers suggest that some of the first microbial colonizers had never been seen before.
According to experts, before being destroyed, the island it was a natural site like no other, which allowed primary succession studies to be carried out on a newly formed landmass, where microbial communities were found in surface sediments, which are believed to have come from nearby active geothermal settings.
Because the island disappeared on January 15, 2022 by the massive volcanic eruption of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcanoscientists will not be able to continue studying the microorganisms found.
For researchers, the volcanic island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai in Tonga it represented a very rare example of new island formation and therefore a unique opportunity to study how organisms colonize a new land mass.