We are exploring the frontier of the "deep biosphere" – microbial life in the rocks and sediments below the ocean floor that makes up 70% of our planet’s surface.
Deep Life
Microbes “rust the crust” at Loihi Seamount (courtesy ROV Jason / WHOI)
This previously unknown Bacillus living 342 meters below the ocean floor is one of very few isolated from the subseafloor crust.

Studying these organisms will reveal important, novel, and basic insights into the unique metabolic features of microbes in the deep biosphere.
Novel Organisms
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Left: Novel Bacillus cells producing spores and right: actively growing (scanning electron microscope (SEM) image courtesy Lily Momper / USC).

Background: Core samples from IODP Leg 206 (photo credit IODP-USIO).
About 0.6% of the Earth’s total living biomass is in subseafloor sediments. This finding updates previous estimates made in 1998.
Global Implications
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Kallmeyer et al. 2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
We require specialized technologies to collect and analyze samples from the deep biosphere, including sensors, samplers, and platforms, deep-sea submersibles, scientific drilling research ships, and ROVs (remotely operated vehicles).
Science & Technology
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JOIDES Resolution scientific driling vessel (credit Arito Sakaguchi, IODP/TAMU)
Left: Science News illustration depicting a CORK deployment (credit Tony Randazzo / AAReps Inc.)

Above: HOV Alvin samples a hydrothermal vent (credit WHOI).
Get involved with our education, outreach, and diversity opportunities for teachers, K-12, undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctorals in our quest to train and foster the next generation of deep biosphere researchers.
Training & Outreach
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C-DEBI's undergraduate summer GEM course (credit Ann Close, USC)

Announcements

C-DEBI Contribution 254 in Nature Geoscience

The South Pacific Gyre IODP Expedition scientists, headed by C-DEBI Co-I Steve D'Hondt, have found oxygen and oxygen-breathing microbes all the way through the sediment from the seafloor to the igneous basement at seven sites in the South Pacific gyre, considered the “deadest” location in the ocean. Their findings contrast with previous discoveries that oxygen was absent from all but the top few millimeters to decimeters of sediment in biologically productive regions of the ocean. See also the accompanying Nature Views article by Beth Orcutt and NSF press release.

C-DEBI Seeks an Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager
The Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) is seeking a Program Manager to join its team. In addition to the science of exploring microbial life beneath the seafloor, education and diversity are priorities to the Center's efforts to strengthen the STEM pipeline by integrating research and educational programs for diverse future generations. The full-time Program Manager will serve as Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager, helping to create, coordinate, and lead our education, outreach, and diversity efforts to serve our students, postdocs, faculty, and other participants at USC and across the nation.

 

Community Activities and Opportunities

DCO: Deep Life Community Call for Proposals
Application deadline: May 01, 2015.

National Academies Research Associateships for Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
There are four annual review cycles and the next closes May 01, 2015.

IODP: Apply to sail on Expedition 364 Chicxulub Impact Crater
The deadline to apply is May 08, 2015.

IODP-USSSP: Proposals for Pre-Drilling Activities and Workshops
The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) accepts proposals on a rolling basis for pre-drilling activities and semi-annually for workshops, next submission deadline May 15, 2015.

DCO: Call for Proposals Census of Deep Life Sequencing Opportunities
Application deadline: June 01, 2015.

NSF: Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Solicitation (STTR)
Full proposal deadline: June 18, 2015.

NSF: Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER)
Full proposal deadlines: July 21-23, 2015.

Simons Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: 2016 Faculty Scholars Competition
Application deadline: July 28, 2015.

NSF: Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry Program Solicitation
Proposals accepted anytime.

C-DEBI: Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager
The Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) is seeking a Program Manager to join its team. C-DEBI is a multi-institutional research and education center funded by the National Science Foundation with USC as its headquarters. In addition to the science of exploring microbial life beneath the seafloor, education and diversity are priorities to the Center's efforts to strengthen the STEM pipeline by integrating research and educational programs for diverse future generations. The full-time Program Manager will serve as Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager, helping to create, coordinate, and lead our education, outreach, and diversity efforts to serve our students, postdocs, faculty, and other participants at USC and across the nation. The Program Manager will also direct day-to-day project operations and administrative activities of C-DEBI at USC. The ideal candidate for the position of C-DEBI Education, Outreach, and Diversity Manager has:

  • 5 years of experience developing and managing educational STEM programs with multiple institutions
  • Leadership and strong oral and written communication skills
  • Experience using social media for professional outreach
  • Research experience at Ph.D. level

Texas A&M, College Station: Postdoctoral research associate, Microbiology/Molecular Biology
The position will be filled as soon as possible, but by July 2015 at the latest.

MBARI: Principle Investigator
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) seeks a Principal Investigator (PI) to develop and direct a marine carbon cycle research team.

Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences: Chemical/Physical/Biological Oceanographer
Review of applications will begin April 15, 2015.

UTK: Professor and Head Department of Microbiology, The College of Arts & Sciences
Review of applications will begin on March 31, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas: Postdoctoral Fellow in microbiology (“microbial dark matter” biology)
The review of materials will begin December 01, 2014, and will continue until the position is filled.

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography: Two Tenure Track Faculty Positions in Oceanography
The committee will begin to review applications on October 24, 2014 and will continue until the positions are filled.