Deep Life
We are exploring the frontier of the "deep biosphere" - microbial life in the rocks and sediments that makes up 70% of our planet's surface.
Background: Microbes "rust the crust" at Loihi Seamount (courtesy ROV JASON / WHOI)
Novel Organisms
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.
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).
It's Slow Growing: Novel Approaches
Visualization methods like "BONCAT" reveal important, novel, and basic insights into the unique metabolic features of microbes in the deep biosphere, as in the slow-growing, archaeal-bacterial consortium anaerobically oxidizing methane in deep sea sediments pictured here.
DAPI (DNA)   BONCAT (new proteins)   FISH (16s RNA)   Bar: 10μM
Figure: Hatzenpichler et al. 2016, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Global Implications
About 0.6% of Earth's total living biomass is in subseafloor sediments. This finding updates previous estimates made in 1998.
Figure: Kallmeyer et al. 2012, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Science & Technology
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).
Above: HOV Alvin samples a hydrothermal vent (photo credit: WHOI). Background: Scientific drilling ship JOIDES Resolution (photo credit: IODP).
Training & Outreach
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.
Background: C-DEBI's undergraduate summer GEM course (photo credit: Ann Close, USC).
Please be advised that the website will receive limited updates as the Center winds down. Subscribe to the newsletter for ongoing detailed deep biosphere news and opportunities.
Ongoing 2021 C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series
Posted: August 17, 2021

Mark your calendars for the next virtual meeting “The Future of MBIO in IODP” on September 3, 2021 (10:30AM – 12:00PM Pacific). Do you have questions about how deep biosphere/microbiology sampling is part of the international scientific ocean drilling program (the International Ocean Discovery Program, IODP), and how subseafloor samples are collected? Have you wondered how you can get more involved with IODP, or how proposals for drilling are handled? Are you curious about the future of IODP beyond the current program, and how deep biosphere/microbiology science can be part of that future?

This C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series event will feature a panel of deep biosphere scientists highlighting these topics and answering your questions. Everyone is welcome to join – from experienced IODP users to those who have never been involved with IODP. Panelists will include Jennifer Biddle (University of Delaware), Stephanie Carr (Hartwick College), Steven D’Hondt (University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography), Jessica Labonté (Texas A&M University Galveston), Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences), and Jason Sylvan (Texas A&M University).

The virtual meeting series is held monthly during the first week of each month, with a regular rotation of science workshops and professional development workshops. Each workshop contains about 90 minutes of programming, including plenary presentations by invited speakers, a community building breakout session, and a plenary Q&A session.


C-DEBI Virtual Series Meeting Organizers:
Joy Buongiorno, Maryville College
James Bradley, Queen Mary University of London
Beth Orcutt, C-DEBI Senior Scientist, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Rosalynn Sylvan, C-DEBI Managing Director, University of Southern California

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Crustal Ocean Biosphere Research Accelerator (COBRA)
Posted: August 13, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Ongoing 2021 C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series
Posted: June 15, 2021
Education and Outreach
Frontiers for Young Minds
Microbial Life Deep Under the Seafloor—A Story of Not Giving Up
Posted: June 1, 2020
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium
Assistant Professors in Coastal or Marine Science
Expires on: September 20, 2021
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Assistant, Associate, or Full Researcher in Oceans and Atmosphere
Expires on: September 30, 2021
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Principal Investigator with a Focus on Seafloor Processes
Expires on: October 1, 2021
Aarhus University
Assistant Professor in Prokaryotic Molecular BiologyNEW!
Expires on: October 11, 2021
University of California, Berkeley
Assistant Professor in Earth & Planetary Sciences
Expires on: October 14, 2021
University of Miami
Open Rank Faculty Search Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric SciencesNEW!
Posted: September 15, 2021
Earth Science Women's Network
Earth and Environmental Science Jobs List
Posted: August 16, 2021
University of Toronto
Postdoctoral Position(s) in Fluid-Rock Interactions & Investigation of Deep Subsurface Life
Posted: August 13, 2021
Meetings and Activities
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Virtual Meeting Series: Towards a More Holistic Understanding of Mentoring Best PracticesNEW!
Expires on: October 1, 2021
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Course in Bioinformatics of Microbial Single Cells, April 3-9, 2022
Expires on: April 3, 2022
Geology Bites
Steve D'Hondt on Reviving a 100-Million-Year-Old Bacterial Colony
Posted: August 16, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Study examines role of deep-sea microbial predators at hydrothermal vents
Posted: August 13, 2021
How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth
Posted: March 17, 2021
What the deep ocean can teach us about life
Posted: March 15, 2021
Scientific American
100-Million-Year-Old Seafloor Sediment Bacteria Have Been Resuscitated
Posted: March 4, 2021
Proposal Calls
National Science Foundation (NSF)
International Research Experiences for Students (IRES)
Expires on: September 28, 2021
Call for Proposals
Expires on: October 1, 2021
American Geophysical Union
Sharing Science Grants for Science Communication and Outreach
Expires on: October 11, 2021
IODP U.S. Science Support Program
Novel Projects in Support of Scientific Ocean Drilling
Expires on: October 15, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Expires on: October 22, 2021
Carnegie Institution for Science
Postdoctoral Fellowships in Earth and Planets LaboratoryNEW!
Expires on: November 1, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Earth Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (EAR-PRF)
Expires on: November 3, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (OCE-PRF)
Expires on: November 12, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Enabling Discovery through GEnomic Tools (EDGE)
Expires on: February 17, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Models for Uncovering Rules and Unexpected Phenomena in Biological Systems (MODULUS)
Posted: May 3, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Organizational Change for Gender Equity in STEM Academic Professions (ADVANCE)
Posted: February 17, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Biological Oceanography
Posted: January 1, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Career-Life Balance (CLB) Supplement
Posted: November 30, 2020
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) Supplement
Posted: October 15, 2020
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Poorly Sampled and Unknown Taxa (PurSUiT)
Posted: April 1, 2020
Cruise Opportunity Program
Posted: June 27, 2019
Chemical Geology
Bioenergetic potentials in terrestrial, shallow-sea and deep-sea hydrothermal systemsNEW!
Published: November 20, 2021
Frontiers in Microbiology
Genomic Variation Influences Methanothermococcus Fitness in Marine Hydrothermal SystemsNEW!
Published: August 20, 2021
Microbial Diversity and Function in Shallow Subsurface Sediment and Oceanic Lithosphere of the Atlantis MassifNEW!
Published: August 3, 2021
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Protistan grazing impacts microbial communities and carbon cycling at deep-sea hydrothermal vents
Published: July 15, 2021
Environmental Microbiology
Microbial metabolism and adaptations in Atribacteria‐dominated methane hydrate sediments
Published: July 13, 2021
2019 GEM Course All-Stars
Posted: August 7, 2019
2018 GEM Course All-Stars
Posted: August 7, 2019
2018 C4 REU All-Stars
Posted: August 7, 2019

Media Highlights

Center Video Overview

C-DEBI is a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center led by Drs. Jan Amend (C-DEBI Director, USC), Julie Huber (Marine Biological Laboratory), Steven D’Hondt (University of Rhode Island), Andrew Fisher (University of California, Santa Cruz), and C. Geoffrey Wheat (University of Alaska, Fairbanks).

C-DEBI/Sea Grant 15-second science videos

In partnership with C-DEBI, Delaware Sea Grant is expanding its collection of 15 Second Science videos and other multimedia to include resources about the deep biosphere and sub-seafloor life.