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)


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.

Announcing awardees from our latest special research call

Congratulations also to the researchers heading the 6 proposals selected for funding in our latest special research call encouraging proposals with foci on synthesis and integration of datasets and samples from recent or upcoming field programs:  Eric Boyd (Montana State), Rick Colwell (Oregon State), Colleen Hansel (WHOI), Susan Lang (U So. Carolina)/Matt Schrenk (Michigan State), Grieg Steward (Hawaii), Andreas Teske (UNC Chapel Hill)/Ivano Aiello (Moss Landing)/Christina Ravelo (UCSC).  Stay tuned on our funded proposal webpagefor more information as the awards become official.


Community Activities and Opportunities

Frontiers in Microbiology: Seeking Contributions for Special Topic on Ocean Crust Geomicrobiology
For more information, contact topic editors Beth Orcutt, Cara Santelli, or Jason Sylvan, or visit the journal webpage.

Nature Geosciences
Presence of oxygen and aerobic communities from sea floor to basement in deep-sea sediments
D'Hondt et al. C-DEBI Contribution 254

Frontiers in Microbiology
The transcriptional response of microbial communities in thawing Alaskan permafrost soils
Coolen and Orsi. C-DEBI Contribution 258

The Scientist
The Energy of Life
Marlow and Amend

Subseafloor Biosphere Linked to Hydrothermal Systems
Ishibashi, Okino, Sunamura, eds.

Request for Articles: Frontiers in Microbiology special issue
A special issue of Frontiers in Microbiology journal on the topic of "Recent Advances in Geomicrobiology of the Ocean Crust" is seeking contributions from the C-DEBI community. For more information, contact topic editors Beth Orcutt, Cara Santelli, or Jason Sylvan, or visit the journal webpage.

Recommended Practices for Integrating Education, Diversity, and Research: Five Lessons Learned from NSF Science and Technology Centers Bruno et al. C-DEBI Contribution 231

Frontiers in Microbiology
Marine sediments microbes capable of electrode oxidation as a surrogate for lithotrophic insoluble substrate metabolism
Rowe et al. C-DEBI Contribution 255

Elsevier: Developments in Marine Geology
Earth and Life Processes Discovered from Subseafloor Environments, 1st Edition
Chapters 2.2(b), 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 4.22 are C-DEBI Contributions 246, 230, 224, 207 and 228

Dorado Outcrop: AT26-24 with the Submersible Alvin, November 30 - December 12, 2014, Expedition Report
Wheat et al.

See our complete list of publications.

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

NSF: Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Solicitation (STTR)
Full proposal deadline: March 20, 2015.

L'Oréal USA: For Women in Science Fellowships
Applications are due on Friday, March 20, 2015.

IODP: Apply to sail on Expedition 362 Sumatra Seismogenic Zone aboard the JOIDES Resolution
The deadline to apply is April 15, 2015.

NSF: Genealogy of Life (GoLife) program solicitation
Full proposal deadline: March 25, 2015.

ECORD: Research Grants for Graduate Students and Postdocs at ECORD Country Institutions
Deadline: March 31, 2015.

NSF: Dimensions of Biodiversity Program Solicitation
Full proposal deadline: April 09, 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-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.

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.

Moore Foundation: Program Officer, Marine Microbiology Initiative

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.