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.
Science communication semifinalists, next Virtual Meeting and Networked Speaker
Posted: March 15, 2021

Message from the Director:

Congratulations to the Reach Out Science Communication Challenge semi-finalists from C-DEBI: Sabrina Elkassas (MIT-WHOI) and Rachel Weisend (Texas A&M Corpus Christi)! Cheer them on as they compete among 18 others in the Reach Out Semifinals live tentatively on April 13 (4PM Pacific) to the panel of expert science communicator judges: Raven Baxter, Emily Calendrelli, Jorge Cham, and Melissa Cristina Márquez. More details to come.

We are also pleased to announce the inaugural event for our C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series based on your enthusiasm for C-DEBI community activities at our last annual meeting. Ben Tully (USC) and Jake Weissman (USC) will kick off the series on new tools in bioinformatics on Monday April 5 (10:30AM – 12:00PM Pacific). Save the date for this first of our virtual events to be held monthly during the first week of each month, with a regular rotation of science workshops and professional development workshops. Each workshop will contain about 90 minutes of programming, including invited speakers to give plenary tutorials and presentations, breakout sessions, and plenary Q&A sessions. Stay tuned for more information.

Don’t forget to also tune in to our final C-DEBI Networked Speaker Series talk “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast: A microbial tale of survival within the marine deep subsurface” presented by Megan Mullis (Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi) on March 18 at 12:30PM Pacific Time.


Jan Amend
C-DEBI Director

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
C-DEBI phase down, STC postdoc opportunity
Posted: December 16, 2020
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
New positions, Networked Speaker Series seminars
Posted: August 17, 2020
Education and Outreach
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Ocean Encounters: ALVIN - Ocean Discovery at New DepthsNEW!
Expires on: April 28, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Global Environmental Microbiology (GEM) Summer Course
Posted: March 2, 2021
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
CC-CREW: Community College Research Experiences at WHOI
Posted: February 17, 2021
Frontiers for Young Minds
Microbial Life Deep Under the Seafloor—A Story of Not Giving Up
Posted: June 1, 2020
Oregon State University
CEOAS Sea-going Oceanographer Cluster Hire
Expires on: April 30, 2021
Queen Mary University of London
Lectureship (Asst. Prof.) in Physical Geography/Environmental ScienceNEW!
Expires on: May 12, 2021
Heising-Simons Foundation
Science Program Officer
Posted: February 17, 2021
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Principal Investigator or Principal Engineer with a Focus on Seafloor Patterns and Processes
Posted: September 2, 2020
Meetings and Activities
University of Southern California
SoCal Geobiology Symposium: Registration and Abstract Submission Open
Expires on: April 23, 2021
IODP U.S. Science Support Program
Community Town Hall #1: IODP - JR through 2024NEW!
Expires on: April 28, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Virtual Meeting Series: New Microbial Physiology TechniquesNEW!
Expires on: May 7, 2021
Host an Ocean Discovery Lecturer
Expires on: May 15, 2021
National Academy of Sciences
Call for "Ocean-Shot" Concepts: Transformative Research for the Decade
Expires on: July 1, 2021
JOIDES Resolution Facility Board: Request for Information
Posted: February 1, 2021
How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the EarthNEW!
Posted: March 17, 2021
What the deep ocean can teach us about lifeNEW!
Posted: March 15, 2021
Scientific American
100-Million-Year-Old Seafloor Sediment Bacteria Have Been Resuscitated
Posted: March 4, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Microbes deep beneath seafloor survive on byproducts of radioactive process
Posted: March 1, 2021
University of Rhode Island
Microbes deep beneath seafloor survive on byproducts of radioactive process
Posted: February 26, 2021
Proposal Calls
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Organizational Change for Gender Equity in STEM Academic Professions (ADVANCE)
Expires on: April 22, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Request for Expression of Interest Regarding Provision of a Drilling Vessel to Support Future International Scientific Ocean Discovery
Expires on: May 1, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Convergence Accelerator Phases I and II
Expires on: May 5, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Understanding the Rules of Life: Emergent Networks (URoL:EN)
Expires on: May 10, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
International Research Experiences for Students (IRES)
Expires on: September 28, 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)
Arctic Research Opportunities
Posted: May 15, 2020
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Poorly Sampled and Unknown Taxa (PurSUiT)
Posted: April 1, 2020
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Enabling Discovery through GEnomic Tools (EDGE)
Posted: January 1, 2020
Cruise Opportunity Program
Posted: June 27, 2019
Nature Communications
The contribution of water radiolysis to marine sedimentary life
Published: February 26, 2021
Italian Journal of Geosciences
The shallow-sea hydrothermal system at Vulcano Island (Italy): the 'type locality' for several transformative discoveries in geobiology
Published: February 1, 2021
Scientific Reports
Engineering lithoheterotrophy in an obligate chemolithoautotrophic Fe(II) oxidizing bacterium
Published: January 25, 2021
Microbiology Resource Announcements
Draft Genome Sequences of Idiomarina abyssalis Strain KJE, Marinobacter salarius Strain NP2017, and Marinobacter salarius Strain AT3901, Isolated from Deep-Sea Sediment near the Western Flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Published: January 21, 2021
Environmental Microbiology
Microbe‐mineral biogeography from multi‐year incubations in oceanic crust at North Pond, Mid‐Atlantic Ridge
Published: January 8, 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.