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.
Announcements
October 2021 Updates
Posted: October 13, 2021

Message from the Director:

A sincere congratulations to C-DEBIer Jen Biddle (University of Delaware) who will receive the Joanne Simpson Medal for Mid-Career Scientists from the American Geophysical Union in recognition of her transformative scientific advances in the Earth sciences, demonstrated strong leadership, and outstanding service to science and society. Please share your personal kudos if you will also be attending the AGU Fall Meeting in New Orleans or online in December.

Cheers,

Jan Amend
C-DEBI Director

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Ongoing 2021 C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series
Posted: August 17, 2021
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Crustal Ocean Biosphere Research Accelerator (COBRA)
Posted: August 13, 2021
Education and Outreach
Frontiers for Young Minds
Microbial Life Deep Under the Seafloor—A Story of Not Giving Up
Posted: June 1, 2020
Employment
Yale University
Assistant Professor of GeochemistryNEW!
Expires on: October 20, 2021
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Program DirectorNEW!
Expires on: October 25, 2021
Boston University
Postdoc Position in Environmental MicrobiologyNEW!
Expires on: October 31, 2021
University of Southern California
Associate or Full Professor in GeobiologyNEW!
Expires on: November 1, 2021
Florida State University
Assistant Professor in Earth-Life Interactions (49940)NEW!
Expires on: November 1, 2021
Florida State University
Assistant Professor in Aqueous Trace Element Biogeochemistry/Chemical Oceanography (49933)NEW!
Expires on: November 1, 2021
Pennsylvania State University
Postdoctoral Scholar in Microbial Metabolic Networks
Expires on: December 31, 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
American Geophysical Union
Geomicrobiology of the Deep Biosphere Sessions, December 17, 2021NEW!
Expires on: December 17, 2021
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Course in Bioinformatics of Microbial Single Cells, April 3-9, 2022
Expires on: April 3, 2022
Press
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
Vox
How an ill-fated undersea adventure in the 1960s changed the way scientists see the Earth
Posted: March 17, 2021
BBC
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)
Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Expires on: October 22, 2021
Carnegie Institution for Science
Postdoctoral Fellowships in Earth and Planets Laboratory
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)
Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO)NEW!
Expires on: January 31, 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)
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
UNOLS
Cruise Opportunity Program
Posted: June 27, 2019
Publications
Chemical Geology
Bioenergetic potentials in terrestrial, shallow-sea and deep-sea hydrothermal systemsNEW!
Published: November 20, 2021
Frontiers in Fungal Biology
Redefining the Subsurface Biosphere: Characterization of Fungi Isolated From Energy-Limited Marine Deep Subsurface SedimentNEW!
Published: September 24, 2021
Frontiers in Microbiology
Potential Activities and Long Lifetimes of Organic Carbon-Degrading Extracellular Enzymes in Deep Subsurface Sediments of the Baltic SeaNEW!
Published: September 17, 2021
Frontiers in Microbiology
Genomic Variation Influences Methanothermococcus Fitness in Marine Hydrothermal Systems
Published: August 20, 2021
mBio
Microbial Diversity and Function in Shallow Subsurface Sediment and Oceanic Lithosphere of the Atlantis Massif
Published: August 3, 2021
Spotlight
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.

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