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.
December 2021 Greetings
Posted: December 1, 2021

Message from the Director:

We enjoyed a final, final Annual Meeting in person last month in Marina, CA with great talks and discussions amongst the company of friends and colleagues we’ve interacted with over a decade of C-DEBI.  Thank you to each and every one of the nearly 1000 participants who has contributed to the success of the Center’s research, education, outreach, diversity, and knowledge transfer!

Coming up Friday at 9:30-11AM Pacific is our last Virtual Meeting Series event of the year with Ivona Cetinič (NASA Goddard): How to Better Prepare Participants and Mentors for Preventing/Addressing Sexual Harassment in the Field.

Happy holidays and best wishes for the new year!


Jan Amend
C-DEBI Director

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
October 2021 Updates
Posted: October 13, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Ongoing 2021 C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series
Posted: August 17, 2021
Education and Outreach
Frontiers for Young Minds
Microbial Life Deep Under the Seafloor—A Story of Not Giving Up
Posted: June 1, 2020
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Associate Research Scientist/Research Scientist in Marine Geology and Geophysics
Posted: November 2, 2021
University of Miami
Open Rank Faculty Search Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
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
Early Career Marine Sediment Sampling PI Training Cruise OpportunityNEW!
Expires on: February 1, 2022
IODP U.S. Science Support Program
Apply to Sail as a Scientist on IODP Expedition 399: Building Blocks of Life, Atlantis Massif, April 7 - June 7, 2023
Expires on: February 1, 2022
Call for Abstracts for Hybrid Conference, July 10-15, 2022
Expires on: March 1, 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)
Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO)
Expires on: January 31, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Science and Technology Centers: Integrative Partnerships (STC)
Expires on: February 1, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Frontier Research in Earth Sciences (FRES)
Expires on: February 2, 2022
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)
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
Frontiers in Microbiology
Ancient Metabolisms of a Thermophilic Subseafloor BacteriumNEW!
Published: December 1, 2021
Chemical Geology
Bioenergetic potentials in terrestrial, shallow-sea and deep-sea hydrothermal systemsNEW!
Published: November 20, 2021
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Spatial variation of subduction zone fluids during progressive subduction: Insights from Serpentinite Mud Volcanoes
Published: November 1, 2021
Communications Earth & Environment
Geothermal heating and episodic cold-seawater intrusions into an isolated ridge-flank basin near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Published: October 29, 2021
Frontiers in Education
The Bioinformatics Virtual Coordination Network: An Open-Source and Interactive Learning Environment
Published: October 14, 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.