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 Seeks a Diversity Program Specialist

The USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) is seeking a Program Specialist 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.

For more information and application instructions, please visit the USC careers website, job ID 1004620.

Community Activities and Opportunities

Special Issue of Frontiers in Microbiology: manuscript submission deadline extended
Deep biosphere researchers: please note that the deadline for submitting a manuscript to the special issue of Frontiers in Microbiology, Recent Advances in Geomicrobiology of the Ocean Crust (topic eds. B.N. Orcutt, J.B. Sylvan, C.M. Santelli), has been extended to January 04, 2016.

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Variations in microbial carbon sources and cycling in the deep continental subsurface
Danielle N. Simkus, Greg F. Slater, Barbara Sherwood Lollar, Kenna Wilkie, Thomas L. Kieft, Cara Magnabosco*, Maggie C.Y. Lau, Michael J. Pullin, Sarah B. Hendrickson, K. Eric Wommack, Eric G. Sakowski, Esta van Heerden, Olukayode Kuloyo, Borja Linage, Gaetan Borgonie, Tullis C. Onstott
*C-DEBI Contribution 278

The ISME Journal
Bacterial diversity and community composition from seasurface to subseafloor
Emily A. Walsh, John B. Kirkpatrick, Scott D. Rutherford, David C. Smith, Mitchell Sogin and Steven D'Hondt*
*C-DEBI Contribution 269

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Iron mineral structure, reactivity, and isotopic composition in a South Pacific Gyre ferromanganese nodule over 4 Ma
Matthew A. Marcus, Katrina J. Edwards*, Bleuenn Gueguen, Sirine C. Fakra, Gregory Horn, Nicolas A. Jelinski, Olivier Rouxel, Jeffry Sorensen, Brandy M. Toner
*C-DEBI Contribution 205

Frontiers in Microbiology
Meta-omic signatures of microbial metal and nitrogen cycling in marine oxygen minimum zones
Jennifer B. Glass*, Cecilia B. Kretz*, Sangita Ganesh, Piyush Ranjan, Sherry L. Seston, Kristen N. Buck, William M. Landing, Peter L. Morton, James W. Moffett, Stephen J. Giovannoni, Kevin L. Vergin and Frank J. Stewart
*C-DEBI Contribution 281

Proceedings of the IODP
Data report: carbon content and isotopic composition of basalts and sediments in North Pond, Expedition 336
Kasumi Sakata, Hikaru Yabuta, Minoru Ikehara, and Tadashi Kondo

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 our complete list of publications.

BISAL: Biology and Planetary Exploration in the Deep Subsurface - Call for Experiments
The Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL) is part of the Boulby Underground Laboratory, an STFC-funded deep underground science facility operating in Boulby Potash and salt mine in the northeast UK. Experiments that cover any area of deep surface biology and astrobiology or planetary exploration are of potential interest.

Simons Foundation: Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution Awards
The deadline for receipt of letters of intent (LOI) is November 02, 2015.

IODP-USSSP: Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship Program
Application deadline: November 15, 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 deadline: December 01, 2015), related to the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

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

NOAA: Ocean Exploration 2016 Funding Opportunity
Closing date for applications: January 8, 2016.

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

IODP-USSSP: Apply to Sail:Expeditions 367 and 368, South China Sea Rifted Margin
The deadline to apply is January, 15 2016.

National Academies: Research Associateships for Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
There are four annual review cycles and the next closes February 01, 2016.

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


UNOLS: 2016 Chief Scientist Workshop Aboard the R/V Thompson
We are pleased to announce a Chief Scientist Training Cruise Opportunity that will take place in February 2016 aboard the R/V Thomas G Thompson. Please share with your colleagues and anyone else you think might be interested! This cruise, a 2 day pre-cruise informational workshop, and phone conferences planning sessions, will instruct early career marine scientists, including PhD students, postdocs and faculty, on how to effectively plan for, acquire, utilize, and report on time at sea for multi-disciplinary research and education. This 2016 Chief scientist program will be staged from San Diego and will include a 7 day research cruise aboard the R/V Thomas G. Thompson in coastal and offshore waters. It will take place between 11 February and 20 February 2016. Small stipends are provided for participant travel costs, research supplies, and shipping. Space is limited. To apply you must be an employee or student (U.S. Citizen or permanent resident) at a U.S. institution or a U.S. citizen working abroad. To be considered, applications must be received by November 30, 2015

C-DEBI E&O: Free Where Wild Microbes Grow iBook and PDF out today on iTunes! Help spread the word!
Please help us promote this C-DEBI education grant-supported eBook for K-12 students to anyone you know, and especially teachers, as they will help us reach the most kids! Also, please be sure to encourage anyone who downloads and likes the iBook version to leave a review on iTunes. The way iTunes is set-up, the more reviews the Where Wild Microbes Grow receives, the easier it will be to find!

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.


AGU 2015: Ignite@AGU: Submit a Talk Proposal 
The call for presenters closes at midnight ET on November 02, 2015

2015 C-DEBI Basement 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 initial invitation for the workshop summarized the desired outcomes: as the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) enters the final stage of Phase I, we are organizing a workshop to synthesize what we have learned about the microbial ecology of subseafloor basement environments, including igneous rocks and crustal fluids. Topics of discussion will include where the bleeding edge of subseafloor crustal microbiology lies, the biggest current obstacles to overcome, commonalities between sites and regimes that have come to light over the last five years (or more), and what questions will be most exciting to address in the coming decade. We are looking for input from microbial ecologists as well as geochemists and petrologists to help synthesize the current research and try to invigorate the community with interdisciplinary goals for the next phase of C-DEBI. Unlike previous C-DEBI workshops, this one will not focus on a specific theme, such as activity or diversity, but will rather look at the entirety of crustal microbiology. We hope you can join us in Boston this July for a few days of stimulating and productive discussions.

2015 C-DEBI Sediment Workshop Report
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?

25th International Geological Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, August 27-September 4, 2016: IODP Symposium call for abstracts
This symposium appears under the Marine Geosciences and Oceanography theme. The abstract submission is now open until January 2016


URI: Assistant Professor of Oceanography
Applications will be reviewed beginning January 7, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.

Harvard: Postdoctoral position available in crystal growth and geobiology
The position is open immediately and will remain open through December 31, 2015.

BOEM: Supervisory Environmental Protection Specialist
Application period closes Monday, November 30, 2015.

Texas A&M University at Galveston: Assistant Professor in Marine Microbial Ecology
Applications should be received by November 30, 2015 for full consideration.

UC Berkeley: Two faculty positions, Earth and Planetary Science
All applications should be submitted online by December 04, 2015.

Bigelow: Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Review of applicants will begin on December 15, 2015.

USC: C-DEBI Seeks a Diversity Program Specialist
The full-time Program Specialist will serve as Diversity Specialist, 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. For more information and application instructions, please visit the USC careers website, job ID 1004620.

USC: Open-Rank, Tenured or Tenure-Track Faculty Position in Geobiology
For further information, please contact the Chair of the search committee, Jan Amend (janamend@usc.edu). Review of applications will begin October 15, 2015.

Georgia Tech: Postdoc in Environmental Microbiology and Genomics
Review of applications will begin on October 31, 2015 and continue until the position is filled.

UCSC: C-DEBI Postdoctoral Research Opportunity in Marine Hydrogeology
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.