RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

Research Goals

Research Themes

Major Programs

Expedition Schedule

Research Support
- Research Grants
- Exchanges
- Postdoctoral Scholars
- Graduate Fellows
- Funded Projects

Funded Research and Travel Exchanges

We are proud to support the following C-DEBI projects.


NEW!
Brian Glazer (University of Hawaii)
Participation in 2014 Eifuku and NW Rota expedition "Ecology of microbial mats at seamount associated Fe-rich hydrothermal vent systems"
11/29/14 - 12/21/14
$1862.49 matched by Brian Glazer Laboratory, UH


NEW! Rinat Gabitov (Mississippi State University)
Biologically induced methane oxidation and precipitation of carbonate minerals: An experimental study
5/15/14 - 9/15/14, Karyn Rogers Laboratory (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
$2500 matched by Rinat Gabitov, MSU

Biologically-mediated CaCO3 precipitation widely occurs in aquatic systems and is often directly linked to the metabolic activity of microorganisms, which could significantly affect the local environment. An example is oxidation of methane and reduction of sulfate mediated by a consortium of Bacteria and Archaea. In order to investigate geochemistry of CaCO3 precipitated abiotically and under microbial activity experimental work was initiated.  The abiotic experiments were performed at different temperatures and pressures (nitrogen and nitrogen-methane mixture).  Further geochemical analyses will allow evaluating of the effect of total pressure and methane partial pressure on the geochemistry of CaCO3 . Sulfate reducing bacterial (Desulfovibrio salexigens) was successfully cultured and precipitation experiments on microbially mediated CaCO3 are in progress. This work is relevant to C-DEBI Research Theme I (Activity in the Deep Subseafloor Biosphere: function & rates of global biogeochemical processes) because carbonate growth rate is linked to microbial activity and the rate of methane oxidation.


NEW!
Caroline Fortunato (Julie Huber Laboratory, Marine Biological Laboratory)
Participation at 2014 International Symposium on Microbial Ecology
8/24/14 - 8/29/14
$2598 matched by Julie Huber, MBL

In August 2014, I gave an oral presentation at the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME) 15th International Symposium in Seoul, South Korea highlighting interesting findings from work looking at the active autotrophic community of the subseafloor. My talk was part of the session entitled “Microbiomes of marine ecosystems: key functions from the cryosphere to the deep biosphere” which hosted an array of talks discussing various aspects of extreme life. Subseafloor communities have the potential to influence ocean biogeochemistry and, in particular, the chemolithoautotrophic populations could potentially provide a large amount of new production to the deep sea. Yet the contribution of and the mechanisms behind the different redox-driven autotrophic metabolisms and the extent of the carbon produced from these metabolic reactions have not been well described. Our findings, using both ‘omics and RNA-SIP techniques, show the presence of an active and metabolically diverse subseafloor chemolithoautotrophic community. Our RNA-SIP results also show there are specific taxonomic groups and autrophic metabolisms that dominate at the different temperatures of the subseafloor. Thanks to the support of C-DEBI, I was able to present this work at the high profile international ISME conference and as a result was also able to learn about other exciting new research scientists are doing to further explore subseafloor life.


NEW! William Orsi (Alyson Santoro Laboratory, University of Maryland)
Present keynote at 2014 Goldschmidt Conference
6/10/14 - 6/14/14
$750 matched by Marco Coolen, WHOI


Stephanie Carr (John Spear Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines)
Participation in 2013 Dorado Outcrop expedition
12/5/13 - 12/23/13
$743 matched by Beth Orcutt Laboratory


Mark Friedman (Animo Charter High School)
2013 Animo Marine Biology Club Catalina Science Trip (21 students)
6/8/13 - 6/10/13
$735 matched by fundraising


Leah Brandt (Chris House Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University)
Learn new RNA extraction techniques
5/15/13 - 6/3/13, Jennifer Biddle Laboratory (University of Delaware)
$923 matched by NAI Travel Award


Loïs Maignien (Sheri Simmons Laboratory, Marine Biological Laboratory)
Microbial life in a deep-sea extreme hypersaline methane seep
8/19/12 - 8/24/12, International Society for Microbial Ecology
$1,920 matched by Sheri Simmons Laboratory

The Anaerobic Oxidation of Methane (AOM) is a central microbial activity in marine sediment experiencing upward migration of this potent greenhouse gas. In the Gulf of Cadiz (East Atlantic margin), over 30 mud volcanoes act as important methane escape pathways from deep-rooted hydrocarbon reservoirs toward sediment surface, and fuel active AOM microbial communities. These mud volcanoes span a wide range of water depths (300 to 2300 m deep), temperatures (4 to 13 °C), salinities (brackish to saturated brines), methane fluxes, geofluid composition and sediment depths. They hence constitute an ideal natural laboratory to study shifts in microbial community structure, functional gene repertoires and expression along these natural gradients. In a recent study (Maignien et al., in press), we have examined how AOM-mediating microorganisms can thrive up to saturated salinity in the center and rim of the Mercator mud volcano. This study raised numerous hypothesis regarding functioning of anaerobic methanotroph Archaea, and electron transfer during methane oxidation. Thanks to the support of C-DEBI, the results of this study could be presented in the 14th meeting of the International Society for Microbial Ecology (ISME14, August 19-14 2012), in Copenhagen. The talk, which was part of the “Microbial Life in Extreme Environments” session, sparked some interesting discussions that were a great incentive to continue the work!


Patricia Harcourt (Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, COSEE-West)
Extreme ocean life: Microbes beneath the sea floor
6/24/12 - 6/28/12, National Marine Educators Association Conference
$497 matched by the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE-West)

Pat Harcourt and Mark Friedman presented a session on the C DEBI project and subseafloor microbes for teachers in grades 7 – 12 at the National Marine Educators Association annual conference held in Anchorage, Alaska in June 2012. The C-DEBI research and technology served as an engaging and exciting focal area for teachers who want to incorporate marine science into their curricula. Pat worked with C DEBI education specialist Cindy Joseph to develop lessons and activities that integrated marine biology, geology, technology, and the process of science. This session highlighted three classroom lessons. In an activity on the discovery of microbes below the sea floor, participants were required to construct a timeline of events based on reading excerpts from “Is Life Thriving Deep Beneath the Seafloor?” (Carl Wirsen, Oceanus, 2004) and track the evidence for microbial life in extreme marine environments. A size and scale activity required participants to place images of familiar objects along a greatly magnified size scale, then add images of newly discovered marine microbes to the scale to provide a sense of their sizes. A demonstration activity was presented to illustrate the work of microbiologist Richard Lenski on bacterial evolution and use of resources, and participants discussed how microbes could evolve to exploit new and extreme environments. Participants shared teaching ideas and strategies for using these lessons as well as resources from the C-DEBI web site. For information please contact Pat Harcourt pharcour@usc.edu.


Katrina Twing (Matt Schrenk Laboratory, East Carolina University)
Biogeography of functional genes in serpentinization-driven ecosystems
6/24/12 - 6/29/12, Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Marine Microbes
$1,500 matched by Carnegie NASA Astrobiology Institute

My attendance at the Gordon Research Seminar and Conference on Marine Microbes, which had a focus of metagenomic analysis of microbial communities, allowed me to learn more about how next generation sequencing techniques and data analysis is being used in the field of marine microbiology so that I may apply it to the subsurface serpentinite environment. At both the seminar and the conference, I presented a poster entitled “Biogeography of Functional Genes in Serpentinization-Driven Ecosystems,” in which I outlined the analysis methods used to identify and compare functional genes necessary for the metabolism of volatiles produced during the geochemical process of serpentinization. The conference was incredibly informative and allowed me to make contacts for potential future collaborations.


William Brazelton (Matt Schrenk Laboratory, East Carolina University)
Metagenomic evidence for primary production fueled by serpentinization
6/24/12 - 6/29/12, Gordon Research Conference and Seminar on Marine Microbes
$1,500 matched by GRC and Carnegie NASA Astrobiology Institute

I presented a poster at the GRS and GRC titled “Metagenomic evidence for primary production fueled by serpentinization” that summarizes my ongoing work to identify autotrophic organisms in serpentinite-hosted subsurface ecosystems. The particular focus of this poster was to identify intriguing connections between several marine and continental sites of serpentinization in order to gain greater insight into biogeochemical process in ultramafic subseafloor habitats, which are currently inaccessible to the large-scale metagenomic techniques we are employing. This conference represented an opportunity to share my research with a community of researchers who are mostly unaware of our work but share common interests. In addition to the many techniques that we have in common, the questions of microbial biogeography that are inherent to our research direction also drive the work by many other marine microbial ecologists who do not necessarily study the subseafloor.


Karyn Rogers (Carnegie Institution of Science)
A high-pressure, high temperature growth system
6/11/12 - 6/15/12, Jens Kallmeyer Laboratory (University of Potsdam)
$1,516 matched by Carnegie Institution of Science and Deep Carbon Observatory

I am requesting funds to visit the laboratory of Dr. Kallmeyer at the University of Potsdam and to work with him and his graduate student, Patrick Sauer, to adapt his high-temperature, high-pressure system to high-temperature, high-pressure deep-sea microbes, and extend the pressure limit to shallow crustal pressure regimes (~100 MPa). The goals of this visit are to (1) test the current high-pressure, high-temperature equipment with a known deep-sea thermophile, Archaeoglobus fulgidus; (2) develop an improved design that increases working pressures to ~100 MPa and includes the addition of fixative to subsamples prior to decompression; and (3) outline future research collaborations between Dr. Kallmeyer, Dr. Rogers and Mr. Sauer. The requested travel funds will solidify a collaboration between two C- DEBI affiliates, including a predoctoral student, and jumpstart a number of future deep biosphere research projects. The transfer of knowledge regarding the high-temperature, high-pressure growth system will greatly expand our ability to investigate the limits of microbial life in the subsurface, and sharing equipment design is one of the key motivations of the C-DEBI community.


Mark Friedman (Animo Charter High School)
Animo High School Marine Biology Club Monterey Bay marine science trip
6/9/12 - 6/11/12, Monterey Bay Marine Science Trip
$1,000 matched by C-DEBI Animo High School Marine Biology Club Students

This appeal is for financial support for the 20 selected Animo High School students who are part of the C-DEBI collaborative. These students, chosen on their merits and determination to pursue a career in science, have been afforded considerable opportunities thru this collaboration. They are part of and lead the QuikSCience and National Ocean Science Bowl team, five have attended the Coastal School for Girls in Maine, and four have participated in USC internships with Dr. Caron (Young Researchers) and in Dr. Edwards’ lab. They regularly attend out-of-school lectures presented by First Fridays, COSEE-West and the Long Beach and Cabrillo Aquaria. A highlight of their continued enrichment in marine science is their organization of a three day marine science trip to a venue in California to visit among other locations Montana del Oro Tide pools, Monterey Bay Aquarium, MBARI, Elkhorn Slough, UCSC Wheat/Fisher Laboratories, J. Pfeiffer campground, and Elephant Seal rookery.


Beth Orcutt (Aarhus University)
Servicing CORK observatory systems in the 'North Pond' location of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
4/11/12 - 5/10/12, North Pond Merian Expedition
$1,023 matched by Katrina Edwards Laboratory (University of Southern California)

I have been invited to sail as a microbiologist and observatory scientist on the 2012 RV Merian cruise with ROV Jason-II to visit the North Pond subsurface observatories installed during IODP Expedition 336 (see letters of support from Dr. Katrina Edwards and Dr. Wolfgang Bach). The purpose of this expedition is to service CORK observatory systems in the ‘North Pond’ location of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for coupled hydrogeological, geochemical and microbiological analysis. I sailed as a microbiologist and observatory scientist on IODP Expedition 336 and was responsible for assembling the subsurface and seafloor microbial colonization experiments that were a central feature of the observatories. During the 2012 RV Merian cruise, I will be integrally involved in the assembly and installation of seafloor microbial observatory components for these CORKs and also with the collection and processing of sediments and rocks sampled during the cruise. I was chosen for this position based on my previous history of designing the observatory components and participation in 7 research expeditions to deploy, recover, service and analyses these instruments.


Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory) and Everett Salas (Photon Systems)
Evaluating the use of common fluorophore-oligonucleotide probes and stains for identifying specific groups of microorganisms with deep UV-induced fluorescence

3/1/12 - 2/28/13, Katrina Edwards Laboratory (USC) and Everett Salas (Photon Systems)
$7,536 matched by Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and Photon Systems

This exchange is for travel and research support for a new collaborative project aiming to expand the utility of deep UV fluorescence microscopy techniques for working with environmental samples. Specifically, we propose to test the applicability of common fluorophore-labeled oligonucleotides, often used in environmental microbiology studies to determine the abundance of particular microbial groups, to sample scanning with current deep UV microscopes. We predict that some fluorophores should generate unique spectral signatures with deep UV excitation, and that these signatures could be utilized for mapping the distribution of specific microbial groups targeted with oligonucleotide-fluorophore probes. If successful, the combination of group-specific labeling of cells with deep UV fluorescence scanning will provide a powerful new tool for the C-DEBI community.


Cassandre Lazar (Andreas Teske Laboratory, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
Enumeration of microbial cells in sediments from the Mediterranean Sea
2/12/12 - 3/2/12, Fumio Inagaki Laboratory (Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, JAMSTEC)
$4,000 matched by Fumio Inagaki Laboratory (Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, JAMSTEC)


Doug LaRowe (Jan Amend Laboratory, University of Southern California)
Environmental energy availability for sulfate-reducing microorganisms in deep subseafloor basaltic fluids
2/13/12 - 2/25/12, Alberto Robador and Tina Lin (University of Hawaii)
$1,242 matched by James Cowen Laboratory (University of Hawaii)


Jennifer Biddle (University of Delaware)
C-DEBI postdoctoral program advising at AGU
12/5/11 - 12/9/11, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Meeting
$1,520 matched by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership

As the postdoctoral program adviser, I would like to be able to network with our existing postdoctorals and make sure they are meeting members of CDEBI. Additionally, I have offered to host a CDEBI get together so that the community can network.


Mark Friedman (Animo Leadership Charter High School)
Teach marine biology Instead of biology to all state standards, and achieving high biology test scores and motivation in urban high schools
10/12/11 - 10/15/11, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference
10/21/11 - 10/23/11, California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) convention
$300 matched by Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)

As part of my presentations at 2 different workshops (Teach Marine Biology Instead of Biology to all State Standards, and Achieving High Biology Test Scores and Motivation in Urban High Schools, I spent about 10 minutes discussing C-DEBI, Adopt a Microbe, Joides Resolution cruise and Skype opportunities. A total of 163 teachers heard the prsentations and saw the Powerpoint presentation which included C-DEBI. At the CSTA conference workshop co-sponsored by COSEE, Teach Marine Biology Instead of Biology to all State Standards DK assisted, as did Gwen Noda and Linda Chilton. I further explained to the primarily high school and some middle school teachers present the availability of Lesson Plans linked to C-DEBI mission and goals in the content subject areas of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and research for/by an Honors Marine Biology Class.


Beth Orcutt (Aarhus University)
Installation of CORK observatory systems in the 'North Pond' location of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
9/16/11 - 11/17/11, North Pond IODP Expedition 336
$1,461 matched by Aarhus University

I have been invited to sail as a Microbiologist on IODP Expedition 336 (X336). The purpose of this expedition is to install CORK observatory systems in the ‘North Pond’ location of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for coupled hydrogeological, geochemical and microbiological analysis. This expedition is one of the three current focus sites of C-DEBI for deep biosphere research. During this cruise, I will be integrally involved in the assembly and installation of the microbial observatory components for these CORKs – a critical component of these experiments. I was chosen for this position based on my previous history of designing the observatory components and participation in 6 research expeditions to deploy, recover, service and analyses these instruments. I have hands-on experience with microbiology experiments in CORKs based on my participation in the recent IODP Expedition 327 to the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank.


Brian Glazer (University of Hawaii)
Geochemistry and microbiology of subsurface fluids obtained from CORK observatories
6/28/11 - 7/14/11, AT18-07 Juan de Fuca Ridge Expedition
$589 matched by Brian Glazer Laboratory (University of Hawaii)

Glazer’s participation on the AT18-07 expedition to the Juan de Fuca Ridge Flank was part of a collaborative effort researching geochemistry and microbiology of subsurface fluids obtained from CORK observatories. During this cruise Glazer’s primary goals were to conduct in situ electrochemical and optical oxygen measurements during real-time fluid sampling on ROV Jason-II, and to recover and redeploy an in situ electrochemical analyzer on a time-series instrument sled (GeoMICROBE) deployed to 1301A in 2010. In combination with temperature and optical oxygen measurements, in situ voltammetry was a useful real-time diagnostic indicator of successful connection to the CORK Fluid Delivery System. Preliminary results suggest delivery of fluids to seafloor samplers during AT18-07, especially at 1362B and 1362A, were highest integrity, lowest oxygen, formation fluids collected to date.


Brandon Briggs (Rick Colwell Laboratory, Oregon State University)
The effect of methane on microbial community distributions in the Ulleung Basin
6/27/11 - 7/1/11, Eoin Brodie Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
$4,539 matched by National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE-NETL)


Beth Orcutt (Bo Barker Jørgensen Laboratory, Aarhus University)
Oceanic subsurface microbial observatory research and the Adopt-A-Microbe education and outreach project

12/13/10 - 12/17/10, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting
$1,175 matched by Aarhus University

My attendance at this conference promoted oceanic subsurface microbial observatory research in general and also encouraged future collaborations with the terrestrial subsurface research community, as well as promoting the educational goals of C-DEBI. I presented results of the collaborative research in development and use of oceanic subsurface microbial observatories in the AGU Session H52: “Rocks, Fractures, Fluids and Life; Insights from Underground Research Laboratories”. I highlighted the ongoing observatory work being conducted on the Juan de Fuca Ridge flank, a central focus of the C-DEBI program. In addition, I presented information about the “Adopt A Microbe” (AAM) education and outreach project in the AGU Session ED17: “Teacher Professional Development Programs Promoting Authentic Scientific Research in the Classroom”. AAM was a custom internet-based project of IODP Expedition 327 to promote interactive learning about microbial life in the deep biosphere. With encouragement from the Deep Earth Academy, I presented information about how the project was developed and provided user-feedback to help a future generation of expedition educators develop similar programs. I also volunteered at the C-DEBI vendor booth at the AGU conference, to further promote CDEBI to the research and education communities.


Mark Friedman (Animo Leadership Charter High School)
Teach marine biology in lieu of biology!

11/3/10 - 11/6/10, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference
$382 matched by Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)

Mark Friedman presented the workshop "Teach Marine Biology in Lieu of Biology" at the 2010 National Association of Biology Teachers conference in Minneapolis. This comprehensive biology course for high school students focuses on marine life and covers all California State Biology Standards. Developed by Los Angeles area high school teachers who currently teach Biology and Marine Biology with support from COSEE-West, online and sample materials (lesson plans, labs, activities, games, puzzles, web interactives, movies with thought questions, web quests, etc. with many resources available in Spanish for ELL) were introduced. The workshop also introduced educators to the new C-DEBI project including the “Adopt a microbe” effort, the ability to SKYPE the Joides Resolution from classrooms, and the forthcoming materials like lesson plans and activities that will be developed by teachers and students associated with C-DEBI.


Brandi Kiel Reese (Heath Mills Laboratory, Texas A&M University)
Bioprospecting novel antimicrobials in the marine deep subsurface biosphere
7/5/10 - 7/28/10, Fumio Inagaki Laboratory (Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research, JAMSTEC)
$2,500 matched by Heath Mills Laboratory (Texas A&M University)

 

> See more on our research and travel exchange program.
> Our DEBI RCN Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Exchange program also supports graduate student and Postdoctoral research exchanges to facilitate collaborations among deep biosphere research groups with the end goal of building and educating the community.
 

 

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