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
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
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
deeplife_CORK_from Science News article.png
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
IMG_1100_Ann Close GEM 2011.JPG
C-DEBI's undergraduate summer GEM course (credit Ann Close, USC)


Open-Rank, Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Geobiology at the University of Southern California
The Departments of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California) invite applications for an open-rank, tenured or tenure-track faculty position in geobiology anticipated to start Fall 2016.We are looking for an interdisciplinary scientist who will apply modern, quantitative and innovative techniques to solve major problems in any area of geobiology. Our interests include but are not limited to candidates with expertise in geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, and/or organic geochemistry, who combine field-based studies with state-of-the-art analytical capabilities and laboratory experimentation. Review of applications will begin October 15, 2015.
C-DEBI Renewed for Phase Two!

I have exciting news to report. C-DEBI has just been renewed by the National Science Foundation for another five years! Phase One started in 2010 with the exploration of the deep subseafloor biosphere, especially at three sites — the South Pacific Gyre, the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank, and ‘North Pond’ in the North Atlantic. In Phase Two our research, education, and outreach activities will combine further field exploration with laboratory experiments and modeling. Thank you all for your continued interest in and support of this Center. And keep checking our website and reading our newsletter about ways to get or stay involved with C-DEBI.

- Jan Amend

Community Activities and Opportunities

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
A continuous culture system for assessing microbial activities in the piezosphere
Dionysis I. Foustoukos and Ileana Pérez-Rodríguez*
*C-DEBI Contribution 233

Proceedings of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Volume 336
Data report: characteristics of sedimentary phosphorus at North Pond, IODP Expedition 336
Delphine Defforey* and Adina Paytan*
*C-DEBI Contribution 256

The ISME Journal
A metagenomic window into carbon metabolism at 3 km depth in Precambrian continental crust
*Cara Magnabosco, Kathleen Ryan, Maggie C.Y. Lau, Olukayode Kuloyo, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Thomas L. Kieft, Esta van Heerden and Tullis C. Onstott
*C-DEBI Contribution 276

Frontiers in Microbiology
Biogeography and evolution of Thermococcus isolates from hydrothermal vent systems of the Pacific
Mark T. Price,  Heather Fullerton and Craig L. Moyer*
*C-DEBI Contribution 279

Frontiers in Microbiology
Carbon fixation by basalt-hosted microbial communities
Beth N. Orcutt*, Jason B. Sylvan*, Daniel Rogers, Jennifer Delaney, Raymond W. Lee, Peter R. Girguis*
*C-DEBI Contribution 277

Fluid mixing and the deep biosphere of a fossil Lost City-type hydrothermal system at the Iberia Margin
Frieder Klein, Susan E. Humphris, Weifu Guo, Florence Schubotz, Esther M. Schwarzenbach, and William D. Orsi*
*C-DEBI Contribution 272

Frontiers in Microbiology
Abundant Atribacteria in deep marine sediment from the Adélie Basin, Antarctica
Stephanie A. Carr*,  Beth N. Orcutt*, Kevin W. Mandernack and John R. Spear*
*C-DEBI Contribution 275

International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 357 Scientific Prospectus
Atlantis Massif Serpentinization and Life: Microbiological, alteration, and tectono-magmatic processes in young mafic and ultramafic seafloor
Gretchen L. Früh-Green, Co-Chief Scientist; Beth N. Orcutt, Co-Chief Scientist; Sophie Green, ESO Expedition Project Manager

Aquatic Microbial Ecology
Substrate specificity of aquatic extracellular peptidases assessed by competitive inhibition assays using synthetic substrates
A.D. Steen*, J.P. Vazin, S.M. Hagen, K.H. Mulligan, S.W. Wilhelm
*C-DEBI Contribution 261

Environmental Microbiology Reports
Viral activities and life cycles in deep subseafloor sediments
T. Engelhardt, W.D. Orsi*, B.B. Jørgensen
*C-DEBI Contribution 271

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Geomorphic regime modulates hydrologic control of chemical weathering in the Andes–Amazon
M.A. Torres*, J. West, K.E. Clark
*C-DEBI Contribution 273

[see also the UCSC press release]

See our complete list of publications.

NSF: Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM)
Full proposal deadline: September 22, 2015.

IODP-USSSP: Special Call for Applications for Expedition 364
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is seeking micropaleontologists with expertise in nannofossil biostratigraphy and knowledge of the Cenozoic, and ideally Paleogene, to sail on Expedition 364 Chicxulub Impact Crater aboard a Mission Specific Platform provided by the ECORD Science Operator. The deadline to apply to this special call is September 25, 2015.

IODP: Call for Scientific Ocean Drilling Proposals
Proposal submission deadline: October 1, 2015.

NSF: Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
NSF also encourages undergraduate seniors to apply. Application deadline (Geosciences; Life Sciences): October 26, 2015.

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

Simons Foundation: Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution Awards
The deadline for receipt of letters of intent (LOI) is November 2, 2015.

NSF: Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I (STTR) Proposal Solicitation
Full proposal deadline: December 11, 2015.

NSF: Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Fellowships (EAR-PF)
Full proposal deadline: January 12, 2016

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

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, related to the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).


Collaborative development of C-DEBI resources for community colleges (Peter Tuddenham, Tina Bishop (The College of Exploration), Lynn Whitley (University of Southern California), Pat Harcourt)
To address the educational objectives of C-DEBI the College of Exploration was funded by C-DEBI’s Education and Outreach Grant Program in 2014 to convene a collaborative team to guide the production of online toolkits of educational materials and resources that community college instructors could use to teach about C-DEBI research and the deep biosphere. The project team consisted of 8 to 10 collaborators, including community college instructors, C-DEBI scientists, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, technology experts, and science education specialists. The project drew from the 2013 C-DEBI online workshop “Microbes down below! Exploring life beneath the ocean floor” offered by the College of Exploration, which was specifically designed for community college instructors (see below). The online toolkits kits were designed to be aligned with specific community college course subjects and include materials and information that instructors can use to make connections between the topics in their curriculum and C-DEBI research, practices, or technology. The aim of this project was to reach a nationwide audience of community college instructors, and through them, hundreds to thousands of community college students, by making C-DEBI resources available free on line. These toolkits are presented at http://www.coexploration.org/C-DEBI for use by all.

The Rolex Scholarships
Application deadline: December 15, 2015.

North Pond: The Search for Intraterrestrials: Full-length Feature Now Up at Vimeo
Winner of best documentary at the 2014 Yosemite Film Festival and an honorable mention at BLUE Ocean Film Festival, North Pond chronicles the drilling activities and installation of seafloor observatories (CORKs) at North Pond on IODP Expedition 336 and was completed as a result of this award. This is the only feature film ever made of an ocean drilling expedition and will provide valuable public exposure to the scientific ocean drilling program (IODP) and C-DEBI.


2015 C-DEBI Sediment Workshop Report
This year, the C-DEBI theme workshops were replaced by biome (basement and sediment) workshops integrated across the research themes to review the state of knowledge at the end of Phase 1. Summary: The 2015 C-DEBI Sediment Workshop was held at the University of Southern California, June 25-26. There were 16 in-person attendees and 2 people participating remotely. During the first part of the first day, each participant gave a short presentation on a research project or interest relevant to the subseafloor sedimentary biosphere. For the remainder of the first day and the second day, the participants engaged in group discussion of the following three questions about the deep subseafloor sedimentary biosphere: 1.What is known? 2.What are the major questions? 3.How can we go about answering these questions?

National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF): Applications Open for the Deep Submergence Science Committee (DeSSC) New-Users Program

  • Opportunity: Participate in a workshop tailored to engage new users of deep submergence science facilities, including students, early-career scientists, engineers and scientists with little or no previous experience in deep-sea research. The workshop is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, December 12-13, 2015 in San Francisco, CA (before the AGU Fall meeting).
  • Background: The National Deep Submergence Facility (or NDSF) manages and operates the U.S. submersible Alvin, the remotely operated vehicle Jason/Medea, and the autonomous underwater vehicle Sentry. These deep submergence vehicles are renowned for facilitating and advancing deep-sea research, e.g. the discovery of hydrothermal vents, studying the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, etc. The UNOLS Deep Submergence Science Committee (DeSSC) is a committee of scientists who provide recommendations and advice to the operator and supporting funding agencies of the NDSF. The organizing committee for the DeSSC New-Users Program includes Peter Girguis (DeSSC Chair/Harvard University), Vicki Ferrini (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory), and Karyn Rogers (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute).
  • DeSSC New-Users Program:  DeSSC is committed to increasing the involvement of students and postdoctoral/early-career scientists. To that end, we have developed the new-users program to: 1) expose students, early-career scientists and other new-users to DeSSC and the NDSF, 2) engage participants in DeSSC advisory activities, 3) offer participants training and mentoring in the process of developing research programs that use NDSF vehicles, and 4) enable participants to network with scientists actively involved in NDSF-supported research. These goals will be achieved through a workshop (prior to the DeSSC meeting) in which more experienced deep-sea scientists and NDSF operators provide instruction on deep-sea research, grant-writing, technology, and data management, and by directly involving participants in the DeSSC fall meeting. Applications for travel and lodging support are being accepted through Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

25th International Geological Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, August 27-September 4, 2016: IODP Symposium call for abstracts
Dear IODP supporters: This is to invite you to contribute to the IODP symposium entitled "Achievements and Perspectives in  Scientific Ocean Drilling" that will be organized at the 25th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa from August 27th to September 4th, 2016. This symposium appears under the Marine Geosciences and Oceanography theme. The abstract submission is now open until January 2016. Please feel free to circulate this information widely to interested colleagues. We look forward to hearing from you soon on that matter and to meeting you in Cape Town next year.

Best regards,
Gilbert CAMOIN, CEREGE, Aix-en-Provence, France (camoin@cerege.fr)
James AUSTIN, UTIG, Austin, USA (jamie@utig.ig.utexas.edu)
Keir BECKER, RSMAS, Miami, USA (kbecker@rsmas.miami.edu)
Yoshi TATSUMI, Kobe Unversity, Japan (tatsumi@diamond.kobe-u.ac.jp)


USC: Open-Rank, Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Geobiology
The Departments of Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences of the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California) invite applications for an open-rank, tenured or tenure-track faculty position in geobiology anticipated to start Fall 2016. We are looking for an interdisciplinary scientist who will apply modern, quantitative and innovative techniques to solve major problems in any area of geobiology. Our interests include but are not limited to candidates with expertise in geomicrobiology, biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, and/or organic geochemistry, who combine field-based studies with state-of-the-art analytical capabilities and laboratory experimentation. For further information, please contact the Chair of the search committee, Jan Amend (janamend@usc.edu). Review of applications will beginOctober 15, 2015.

UCSC: C-DEBI Postdoctoral Research Opportunity in Marine Hydrogeology
Andy Fisher anticipates bringing in a new postdoctoral researcher in Spring/Summer/Fall 2016. This will be a one-year position, with potential for renewal. Project(s) will involve studies of seafloor hydrothermal circulation, emphasizing low-temperature ("ridge-flank") environments. A successful researcher will develop numerical models to gain understanding as to how these systems work, what factors control the geometries and rates of fluid (heat, solute) transport, relations between crustal structure and fluid flow, etc. There is a lot of observational data that can be used to generate domain geometries and properties, and provides strong constraints on acceptable output. Much of the modeling will be done in collaboration with colleagues who have expertise in biogeochemistry and/or microbiology. Developing and testing models that link hydrogeologic, thermal, chemical and microbiological characteristics is a research frontier and is important to C-DEBI. Experience in modeling/programming is a prerequisite, so that we can make good progress in a short time, as are strong writing and communication skills, and analytical strengths and knowledge of the literature in some combination of hydrothermal systems, hydrogeology, geophysics, engineering, geochemistry, or related disciplines. More information on Fisher's research group, projects, and specifications for preparing an application for this postdoctoral position can be found here. Please contact Fisher (afisher@ucsc.edu) with questions and/or to submit an application. Review of applications will occur in Fall 2015.

Ecole Polytechnique Federale Lausanne (EPFL) / Environmental Microbiology Laboratory (EML): Postdoctoral researcher position to investigate the microbial community in deep sulfidic boreholes in Finland
Start date: October 01, 2015.

Rice University: Wiess Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Earth and Planetary Science
The application deadline is November 1, 2015.

Oregon Health & Science University, Institute of Environmental Health: Postdoctoral Position in Environmental & Biomolecular Systems
The position is available immediately. Posted July 21, 2015.

Curtin University, Perth: PhD scholarships
Several PhD scholarships are available for national and international students (including fee waivers for exceptional scholars). Priority areas: Application of biomarkers (organic geochemistry), compound-specific isotope analysis, palaeogenomics and geomicrobiology. Please send Expression of interest, CV and names of three referees to: Professor Kliti Grice, K.Grice@curtin.edu.au and A/Professor Marco Coolen, Marco.Coolen@curtin.edu.au.