Suppose that there is a moon, orbiting a gas giant, and that gas giant is a rogue planet – it moves freely through the universe, unbound by the gravity of a star. This means that one, the moon will never see the light of day, and two, there will be no sun to warm it.
But say that the processes of volcanism, convection and tidal heating do give it warmth. In that case, the moon could, potentially, be habitable, assuming other figures, statistics and technicalities were also appropriate for habitability.
With no light – save for naturally occuring fires or volcanic eruptions – photosynthesis is impossible here. Chemosynthesis isn’t really possible except in special locations, so to have something roughly similar to plants, a new process must be devised.
We’ll call that process kinetosynthesis – a method of autotrophy not seen on Earth. While photosynthesizers use chloroplasts to strip electrons from substances as water, kinetosynthesizers use piezoelectric crystals in their cells, such as quartz, to do the same thing, but with mechanical stress replacing sunlight. I’m no chemist, so I’ll leave the process as vague as is for this question.
These kinetotrophic plants would likely have a number of energy sources, so as to exploit vacant niches; namely wind, rain, tides, sound and pure stress. If this sunless moon was volcanically active, wind and rain could be present – volcanic hotspots create contrasting hot and cold areas for the air to move between, and volcanoes play a part in Earth’s water cycle – were they in greater density, they could cause rain to occur.
One possible problem with kinetosynthesis is the lack of energy that can be obtained – but perhaps the lower gravity, plus an oxygen-rich atmosphere (Which could be boosted significantly once kinetotrophic “Embryophytes” evolved, which in turn would be fuelled by the high volcanic activity), would decrease the energy usage of various organ systems, combined with drastic tides and fast winds – would make it more plausible.
In the end, it’s fair to say that we really don’t know if kinetosynthesis would work. But, let’s just say that it is here. Finally, onto my question: If there were sessile, multicellular kinetoautotrophs, using piezoelectricity in the method described above, how would they be structured?
Let me explain a bit more. Earth plants, as we all know, have roots in the ground, a stem, and leaves. Stems are, in part, for growing taller than your peers, and thus get more light than them. How might kinetotrophs grow to recieve more energy than the surrounding ones? Leaves are for photosynthesis, mainly. Would kinetotrophs benefit from specialized kinetosynthesizing structures?
Obviously, a plant that got energy from the tides would look different to one that got energy from the wind, and one that fed on rain would differ from one that fed on sound. For your answers, you can select any of the energy sources (Wind, rain, tide, sound, stress).
If you consider this premise implausible, please say so. If you deem the question in need of editing, please say so too.