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.
Join us for the next C-DEBI Virtual Series Meeting: August 6, 2021
Expires on: August 6, 2021

Techniques for Isolating Persnickety Microbes

Our next virtual series meeting features plenary speakers Roman Barco (University of Southern California) and Ileana Pérez-Rodríguez (University of Pennsylvania) who will present on Friday August 6 (10:30AM – 12:00PM Pacific). 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 will contain about 90 minutes of programming, including invited speakers to give plenary tutorials and presentations, breakout icebreaker and discussion sessions, and plenary Q&A sessions. Register in advance for the meeting on August 6, 2021.

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Ongoing 2021 C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series
Posted: June 15, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Science communication semifinalists, next Virtual Meeting and Networked Speaker
Posted: March 15, 2021
Education and Outreach
European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling
ECORD Summer School: Downhole Logging for IODP Science (Online)NEW!
Expires on: August 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
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Marine Geology and Geophysics Program Director (Rotator)
Expires on: August 2, 2021
University of Lausanne
Postdoctoral Researcher in Microbial GeochemistryNEW!
Expires on: August 20, 2021
Pennsylvania State University
Postdoctoral Scholar in Microbial Metabolic Networks
Expires on: September 1, 2021
Texas A&M University
Assistant Professor in Oceanography
Expires on: September 1, 2021
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Principal Investigator with a Focus on Seafloor Processes
Expires on: October 1, 2021
Northeastern Illinois University
Instructor in Earth Science
Posted: June 15, 2021
Meetings and Activities
American Geophysical Union
Abstract Submission Open for the AGU 2021 Fall MeetingNEW!
Expires on: August 4, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Virtual Meeting Series: Techniques for Isolating Persnickety MicrobesNEW!
Expires on: August 6, 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
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)
International Research Experiences for Students (IRES)
Expires on: September 28, 2021
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)
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
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (IIBR)
Posted: October 1, 2018
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Protistan grazing impacts microbial communities and carbon cycling at deep-sea hydrothermal ventsNEW!
Published: July 15, 2021
Environmental Microbiology
Microbial metabolism and adaptations in Atribacteria‐dominated methane hydrate sedimentsNEW!
Published: July 13, 2021
Diverse Viruses in Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vent Fluids Have Restricted Dispersal across Ocean BasinsNEW!
Published: June 29, 2021
Environmental Microbiology Reports
Cryptic metabolisms in anoxic subseafloor sedimentNEW!
Published: June 28, 2021
Frontiers in Microbiology
The Energetic Potential for Undiscovered Manganese Metabolisms in Nature
Published: June 9, 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.