Message from the Director:
We hope the new semester is treating you well, and we also want to congratulate these C-DEBIers who have started new positions: Jackie Goordial (Postdoctoral Fellow at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University), Cara Magnabosco (Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich)), Gus Ramirez (Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Stephanie Schroeder (STEM Director at Carleton College), Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert (Assistant Professor at Arizona State University), and Katrina Twing (Assistant Professor at Tennessee Tech University). We also congratulate C-DEBI Senior Scientist Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences) to be awarded the 2019 Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize “for outstanding transdisciplinary research accomplishment in ocean drilling” at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony (11 December in San Francisco).
And don’t forget we have two more Networked Speaker Series talks coming up this year! This Thursday, Dr. Jessica Labonté (Texas A&M Galveston) presents “You are what you eat: a geochemical and microbial study of a 3000-year old stratigraphic sediment succession” at 12:30PM Pacific Time. The series ends with Dr. James Bradley (Queen Mary University of London) on November 7 with “The power of microbial life in marine sediments.” Talks from Dr. Jeanine Ash (Rice University) and Taylor Royalty (University of Tennessee) earlier this year are archived on the NSS website.
Message from the Director:
Science Magazine’s May 23 Working Life features the brave personal account of Stephanie Schroeder, C-DEBI’s Education Director, on being open with her diagnosis and how it’s changed her own identity with and advocacy for inclusion. Illustration by Robert Neubecker (neubecker.com).
Stephanie Schroeder, our Education Director, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. In a recent article in Science Magazine’s Working Life, she opened up about the diagnosis, her subsequent struggles, and the decision to leave high-stress Los Angeles for Minneapolis. She provides a brave and honest account of how going public with her MS has made her a better advocate for members of marginalized groups. Stephanie has been part of C-DEBI since 2012, developing our signature education, outreach and diversity programs, including the Community College Cultivation Cohort (C4) REU, the Global Environmental Microbiology (GEM) course, various teacher training seminars, professional development workshops and more. We are thrilled that Stephanie continues to work passionately for our program participants as she balances her personal health with her professional goals.
The Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is seeking graduate student applications. We have a rich geology, environmental science, and astrobiology program, as well as data science/ geoinformatics. Applications are welcome at any time.
Stories from the Cores is a series of video games that let players act like scientists studying cores drilled from the ocean and uncovering their secrets. Watch this trailer to see what the games are like. You can download this game to play on you home computer.
Eight members of the DCO science network volunteered to become Wikipedia Fellows and to improve the content of science material on the free online encyclopedia. Through their efforts, they improved 23 articles and contributed more that 13,000 words to this widely read resource.
Know someone who can share their knowledge of essential skills not learned in graduate school, like developing a syllabus, how to choose what professional service committees to serve on or how to transition to a career in industry? C-DEBI seeks nominations for its Professional Development Webinar series. In addition to providing training in state-of-the-art technologies and instrumentation for graduate students and beyond, we emphasize professional development training targeting skills needed both in and out of academia. These live interactive webinars provide transferable skills for all early career scientists and will be archived on the website for those unable to “attend” the live events. Potential speakers can be nominated by colleagues, mentors, or those mentored by C-DEBI participants; they can also self-nominate. Selected C-DEBI Professional Development Speakers will make a presentation online, using video conferencing tools, with assistance from the C-DEBI main office at USC. Nominated C-DEBI Professional Development Speakers should be capable of combining compelling visual materials with the ability to communicate effectively to a broad audience. Please send nominee name, contact info/description, and subject topic to Education, Outreach, & Diversity Managing Director, Stephanie Schroeder email@example.com.
The new JOIDES Resolution traveling exhibit (which if you’re not familiar with, you can see a video preview of it here: https://youtu.be/lbnQIXIcync) was created through an NSF grant that also provides funding to allow the exhibit to visit sites around the United States to the end of 2021. If you would like the exhibit to come to your community, there is an online application form to nominate your community as a future host site during 2019-2021. Before you go and do that though, there are a couple stipulations. The grant requires each host community to be a collaboration between an organization such as a library, museum, science center, or university and a local girl scout council. The organization will provide the facilities to present the exhibit to the public, as well as provide opportunities for underserved audiences to easily experience the exhibit. The girl scout council will commit to training some of their girl scouts to be volunteer docents for the exhibit while it is in town. If you have any contacts with local organizations and/or girl scout councils who may be interested in hosting this exhibit, please pass this information onto them.
The Earth Surface Science group at Queen Mary University of London are seeking a 36-month postdoc with expertise in terrestrial biogeochemical modelling. This post is part of an exciting new collaborative project with CU Boulder, U Utah, Montana Tech & British Geological Survey, investigating the fate of Arctic soil following glacier retreat. Glacier retreat is exposing pioneer Arctic soils that host a dynamic ecosystem and act as biogeochemical reactors. The aim of this project is to improve the understanding of how seasonal processes contribute to the long-term (i.e. multi-decadal) development of Arctic soils. The PDRA will develop, implement and apply a new fully coupled biogeochemical-geophysical model for pioneer Arctic soils. These activities are linked to a larger project whose wider ambition is to achieve continuous year-round monitoring of dynamic processes using a network of buried geophysical sensors in a High-Arctic glacier forefield, and repeated field monitoring of soil biogeochemical processes via state-of-the-art molecular techniques. Numerical modelling will be instrumental in forming mechanistic linkages between seasonal variations, and soil biogeochemical, geophysical and hydrogeological processes over multi-decadal timescales, as well as to capture and explore year-round dynamics of Arctic soils, and conduct predictive modelling of the future fate of Arctic soils following large-scale ice retreat and climate warming. Model development and calibration will make use of field datasets that will be collected during year-round fieldwork campaigns throughout 2020 and 2021, There will be opportunities for the PDRA to participate in project-related fieldwork activities in Svalbard. The PDRA will work within a multidisciplinary team with significant strengths in environmental-biogeochemistry, modelling, geomicrobiology, and geophysical sensing – and thus develop an interdisciplinary skill set, and collaborate nationally and internationally. Deadline: Apply before March 20, 2020 for full consideration. The position will remain open until filled.
The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), an independent U.S. not-for-profit marine research institution based in Bermuda, is seeking an early career candidate for an Assistant Scientist position. We seek applications from current postdoctoral scholars/fellows or recent PhD graduates in oceanography or closely related subjects. We welcome a broad range of potential topics for study, including physical oceanography process studies at all scales, biogeochemical research with practical experimentation, and system modeling with strong integration of data. We seek a candidate who will take advantage of the opportunities and facilities offered at BIOS which include bi-weekly access to the deep ocean, repeat measurements and long-term monitoring of ocean properties, integration of glider observations with traditional ship-based measurements and laboratory access for chemical and biological measurements and experimentation. The successful candidate will oversee a fleet of autonomous underwater gliders equipped with sensors systems for biogeochemical and physical oceanographic research. The position will remain open until filled.
The University of Georgia Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and the Department of Marine Sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences invite applications for two nine-month, tenure-track faculty positions resident at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah, GA. Successful candidates will be interdisciplinary, self-motivated, and eager to pursue innovative research and education in a supportive academic environment. We seek biological oceanographers who excel in addressing interdisciplinary and large-scale questions, especially in the context of climate change and other anthropogenic influences. The appointment is expected to be made at the Assistant Professor level, but consideration will be given to exceptional applicants seeking appointment at the Associate Professor level. The successful applicants will be expected to teach undergraduate and graduate courses, including advanced courses in their area of specialization. Expertise in marine phytoplankton, protists and viruses, symbiosis ecology, or the role of biota in biogeochemical cycles, and with sea-going experience, are particularly encouraged to apply. The committee will review applications starting on November 15, 2019, continuing until the positions are filled.
The Marine Chemistry & Geochemistry Department at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) invites candidates to apply to the open full-time exempt tenure track position(s) on our scientific staff. We seek to hire one or more scientists at the Assistant Scientist level; however, qualified candidates may be considered at Associate Scientist without Tenure, Associate Scientist with Tenure, or Senior Scientist levels. As one of the largest and thematically diverse marine chemistry/geochemistry departments in the US, MC&G scientific staff conducts research throughout the world’s open-ocean, deep-sea, coastal and inland environments, develops sensors for in-situ measurements, analyzes samples using state-of-the-art analytical techniques, carries out laboratory-based experimental studies, and develops and applies computer models and remote sensing techniques. The successful candidate(s) will conduct research in any area of marine chemistry and geochemistry that complements and strengthens existing programs on the chemistry of the ocean and its interactions with the Earth as a whole. Opportunities for interdisciplinary research exist through collaborations with colleagues in the other science departments, centers, and labs, as well as with researchers in the broader Woods Hole scientific community. WHOI’s Scientific Staff is expected to provide for their salaries from grants and contracts. The Institution provides salary support when no other funding is available, as well as internal funding opportunities for developing innovative research projects. Candidates hired at the junior level will receive an initial appointment for four years. To apply, please visit http://careers.whoi.edu and respond to Job Reference 19-10-11. Review of applications will begin on December 16, 2019.
The Biology Department and the Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) program at Western Washington University (WWU) invite applications for a tenure-track, assistant professor position in MARINE MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, beginning FALL 2020. As one of the initial faculty hires into the MACS program, the successful applicant will foster an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research in marine and coastal science. We seek an individual who is enthusiastic about teaching and who will establish a vigorous research program, focused on testing biological questions in marine biological systems using molecular approaches, that involves undergraduate and Masters-level students. A primary teaching responsibility in Biology will be introductory molecular and cellular biology for majors. Additional teaching responsibilities in Biology could include advanced courses in molecular biology, genetics, cellular biology, and/or bioinformatics/computational biology/’omics. Application review begins October 8, 2019; position is open until filled.
This Professorship of Geological Earth Surfaces Processes (Sedimentology) should strengthen the Faculty of Geosciences in research and teaching in the area of Geology. This professorship is aimed at enhancing interdisciplinary cooperation in the dynamics of earth surface processes documented by sedimentary facies, stratigraphic successions, or paleoclimatological proxies, on the basis of sedimentological field observations and modern methods of sedimentary rock analysis. We expect a willingness to explore synergies with tectonics, paleontology, geobiology, geophysics, geochemistry, physical geography and in particular with the research and teaching unit in geology, as well as with the GeoBio-Center LMU and the Munich Geocenter. The establishment of third-party research funding from national and international sources is expected. Teaching responsibilities in the Bachelor program “Geosciences”, in the international Masters Programs “Geology”, “Geobiology and Paleobiology”, and “Geophysics”, as well as further teaching responsibilities in exogenic geology/sedimentology, must be met in a manner which is complementary to the existing teaching strengths of the department.
Drs. Samantha Joye, Anna-Louise Reysenbach and Adam Soule will host a Town Hall at the 2020 Ocean Sciences Meeting. The Town Hall is scheduled for Monday, February 17 from 12:25 to 1:45 pm at the San Diego Convention Center, 9, UL. The Town Hall is aimed at researchers who are interested in contributing to development of a grassroots community vision that will promote a new phase of deep sea discovery through coordinated transdisciplinary research efforts made possible through development of a Research Coordination Network proposal. This effort will advance the field and create new directions in deep sea science, promote new collaborations, and foster coordination and training across disciplinary, organizational, geographic, and international boundaries all while broadening participation in deep ocean science.
The Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU) commemorates the coming year 2020; it is the 15th anniversary since JpGU was founded in 2005, and the 30th anniversary since its predecessor, the Japan Earth and Planetary Science Joint Meeting, was first held in 1990. On this occasion, the 2020 annual meeting will be held joint with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) as the JpGU-AGU Joint Meeting 2020, following the first cooperative effort with AGU in 2017. Furthermore, the Joint Meeting anticipates expansion and enrichment of joint sessions with the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) and the European Geosciences Union (EGU). The JpGU has recently grown to embrace over 51 members of academic societies and over 10,000 individual members. The attendance at the 2019 Annual Meeting exceeded 8,400 total participants (including approximately 2,400 students), with over 650 participants from abroad (covering 41 nations and areas). The meeting provides an indispensable opportunity for participants from the fields of Earth and planetary science to interact. The annual survey indicates that the participants would like to see a wider range of session programs, including some open to the public, and an expansion of English-language sessions. Hopes are high for the promotion and expansion of interdisciplinary and border-area researches and further internationalization of Earth and planetary science research. Abstract submission deadline: February 18, 2020.
The UNOLS Council has the standing goal of improving the quality and capability of existing ocean science facilities and the quality, reliability and safety of their operation. Many improvements have been made over the past decade, including the addition of new research vessels. UNOLS Council would also now like to turn attention to improving the quality of life and morale while working at sea, for both the permanent crew and itinerant scientists. For example, technological improvements in satellite internet connections have changed and enhanced life at sea, enabling those onboard to attend to personal business and maintain family connections, but these technological improvements often come with high financial costs. Simpler, less expensive efforts can also improve morale and quality of life at sea, such as cook outs on the deck or swim calls (long ago …). Please help us improve the quality of life at sea by filling out this brief three question survey. Please complete the survey by February 28, 2020.
The University of Southern California (USC) is excited to host the 17th annual Southern California Geobiology Symposium. The symposium will be held on April 4th, 2020. Information about registration/abstract submissions, program details, and specific location will be available in January 2020. The SoCal Geobiology Symposium is an annual student-organized symposium for scientists interested in astrobiology, climate science, ecology, geochemistry, geology, microbiology, oceanography, and paleobiology. We welcome scientists from all levels of academia and both those living in Southern California and from around the world. Undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs are encouraged to submit abstracts for posters or talks to share their research. Abstract submission and registration will close on March 4, 2020.
Nominations are now open for 2020 AGU honors, including the Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize. The extended nomination period aims to increase selection and diversity among the nominees and to allow more time for nominators to develop multiple nomination packages. Deadline: March 15, 2020,
The International Society for Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM) is made up of microbiologists, ecologists, geoscientists, and other researchers around the world fascinated by the various aspects of subsurface microbiology, a rapidly expanding field that focuses on microbial life below the surface of the earth. ISSM has organized numerous symposiums on subsurface microbiology in locations as diverse as Germany, Japan, New Zealand, USA and the UK. These symposia are meant to showcase the latest technologies and research in subsurface microbiology, including microbial ecology. The deadline for submitting poster abstracts (oral presentation abstract submissions are now closed) is March 31, 2020.
At several hundred meters below our feet or below the sea floor, the energy flux and the theoretical growth rate of bacteria are orders of magnitude below anything we can understand from research on cultivated microorganisms. Studies of the carbon and energy turnover deep beneath the seafloor and in the terrestrial subsurface indicate that the prokaryotic cells living here subsist at an energy flux that barely allows cell growth over tens to thousands of years. It remains unexplained whether the organisms have properties beyond our current understanding of microbial life and whether these organisms in fact represent the predominant mode of microbial life on our planet – or whether energy sources may be available that have not yet been identified. The limits of microbial life and the exploration of the biological demand for energy is the focus of the International Workshop on Microbial Life under Extreme Energy Limitation (co-sponsored by C-DEBI), held 7-11 September at Sandbjerg Manor near Sønderborg, Denmark. We invite researchers and students from different relevant disciplines to participate in the workshop in order to discuss microbial energy requirements and stimulate new thinking and new approaches. The deadline for abstract submissions is April 1, 2020.
The meeting will highlight the importance of deep carbon science for understanding the various reservoirs of carbon in our solar system – from cores to atmospheres on Earth and other planets, and from diamonds to microbial cells. We will highlight the quantities, movements, forms and origins of carbon on Earth and elsewhere. Oral sessions and discussions will focus on the origins of carbon in all of its forms in the solar system, the knowns and unknowns of Earth’s deep carbon cycle, and the forms and functions of carbon under extreme physical, chemical and biological conditions. After discussing novel means to distinguish whether organic compounds derive from biological or abiotic processes, we will discuss the interplay of key geological and biological processes associated with abiotic synthesis of organic matter and deep life in serpentinizing systems and other relevant geological settings. We will then explore the factors limiting life at depth on Earth and the implications for interactions between carbon reservoirs and life at great depths. The final phase of the conference will address the movements of carbon from planetary interiors to atmospheres and the role of carbon recycling by subduction. The presentations will be concluded with a set of late-breaking topic presentations selected by early-career scientists from solicited abstracts and GRS submissions. Our program fortifies and strengthens the ties between disparate fields of inquiry engaged in understanding the science of deep carbon. Applications for this meeting must be submitted by May 31, 2020.
The workshop aims at gathering scientists interested in the geological, physical and (bio-) chemical processes of serpentinization and the life it sustains, its impact on development of mineral resources, of new energy sources and the environmental and societal impact of serpentine exploration and exploitation. Registration will close June 30, 2020.
On May 6th and 7th, 88 U.S. scientists with a strong interest in scientific ocean drilling (SOD) convened a workshop in Denver, CO, entitled “NEXT: Scientific Ocean Drilling Beyond 2023” to discuss United States priorities for SOD after the current IODP science plan ends. Joining the workshop were several representatives from the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO), experts in drilling/coring, geoscientists from other organizations, and about 30 international partners. In total, approximately 140 people participated. Goals of the NEXT workshop included: What new scientific challenges should be addressed in the new SOD program? What should the framework or structure of the new science plan look like? And what is needed in a new U.S. riserless drilling vessel (from coring to shipboard analysis) to respond to the new challenges identified in this next science plan?
Use LinkedIn for professional networking or job discovery? Add our job announcements and other relevant news to your feed by “following” C-DEBI’s company page, and link your profile via the Work Experience section (e.g., “Postdoctoral Fellow at C-DEBI: Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations”).
Our 2018 Networked Speaker Series speakers have been selected! These early career investigators were nominated by members of the community for their exciting research and effective communication, so mark your calendars! The intent of these half-hour talks is to connect all of us interested “deeply” or broadly in the deep biosphere.
- NSS #18: Dr. Alma Parada, Stanford University
Evaluating the diversity and distribution of novel microbes across physical and geochemical gradients in deep-sea sediments
May 31, 2018, live online, 9:30AM HAST / 12:30PM PDT / 3:30PM EDT
- NSS #19: Dr. Nagissa Mahmoudi, McGill University starting August 2018
September 20, 2018, live online, 9:30AM HAST / 12:30PM PDT / 3:30PM EDT
- NSS #20: Dr. Jackie Goordial, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
September 27, 2018, live online, 9:30AM Hawaii Time / 12:30PM PST / 3:30PM EST
- NSS #21: Dr. Rosa León Zayas, Willamette University
October 18, 2018, live online, 9:30AM Hawaii Time / 12:30PM PST / 3:30PM EST
To help preserve deep biosphere methods for use in future projects, the Center strongly encourages you to describe your lab and software-based methods using protocols.io, and to link them to our group page at https://www.protocols.io/groups/center-for-dark-energy-biosphere-investigations. The protocols.io website provides an easy-to-use platform to share reproducible, step-by-step scientific methods. So far, our group has 10 protocols up and we hope to preserve as many methods as possible from the community, including both successful and failed protocols. Please contact Matt Janicak <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you have any questions about using the site and we hope to see your contributions up soon.
The NSF Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) invites proposals for $15,000 on average (and up to $20,000) in direct funds for community workshops that will help to advance C-DEBI’s central research agenda: to investigate the subseafloor biosphere deep in marine sediment and oceanic crust, and to conduct multi-disciplinary studies to develop an integrated understanding of subseafloor microbial life at the molecular, cellular, and ecosystem scales. C-DEBI’s research agenda balances exploration-based discovery, hypothesis testing, data integration and synthesis, and systems-based modeling. C-DEBI welcomes proposals from applicants who would enhance diversity in C-DEBI and STEM fields.
The essential roles that microbes play in deep-sea ecosystems are at risk from the potential environmental impacts of mining, a new paper (C-DEBI Contribution 481, Orcutt et al.) in Limnology and Oceanography reports. The study reviews what is known about microbes in these environments and assesses how mining could impact their important environmental roles.
A hearty congratulations to C-DEBI Senior Scientist Steve Finkel on his election to President of the American Society for Microbiology!
Andrew Fisher, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz (and C-DEBI Co-I), has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Fisher was recognized for “distinguished scientific contributions to seafloor and groundwater hydrology, for service to academe and research organizations, and for innovations in freshwater management.”
There are teeny-tiny organisms living at the depths of our oceans, which can tell us a lot about the possibility of life beyond Earth. Real life deep sea explorer (and C-DEBI Associate Director) Dr. Julie Huber from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution joins us to talk about the clues the deep water gives us about alien life. And as usual, we go to the phones to answer your questions, like one from Patrick, who asks, “how close to an alien environment are our oceans near the underwater volcanic vents?”
To find out what kinds of microbes live in the nooks and crannies of the ocean crust, researchers dropped sterilized rocks into plugged drill holes. The biofilms that grew on the rocks were somewhat different from organisms that swim in the fluids, showing that both communities are important to our understanding of this giant subsurface ecosystem. Featuring the recent paper Ecology of Subseafloor Crustal Biofilms (Frontiers in Microbiology, C-DEBI Contribution 391).
The Oceanographic Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination (OTIC) Program supports a broad range of research and technology development activities. Unsolicited proposals are accepted for instrumentation development that has broad applicability to ocean science research projects and that enhance observational, experimental or analytical capabilities of the ocean science research community. Specific announcements for funding opportunities are made for additional projects involving Improvements in Facilities, Communications, and Equipment at Biological Field Stations and Marine Laboratories (FSML) and the National Ocean Partnership Program. Full proposal target date: February 18, 2020.
This Solicitation supports two funding opportunities to advance geosciences research: 1) Science-Enabling Capabilities and Pilots: This opportunity builds capabilities to improve geosciences data use and reuse for observational, experimental, and computational research that is interoperable with emerging standards and resources. It also solicits pilot efforts to integrate different datasets and tools from multiple GEO disciplines. 2) EarthCube Research Coordination Networks (RCNs): This opportunity supports the formation of RCNs closely tied to the science and data needs of core geosciences programs and domains supported by GEO. In addition to these solicited opportunities, the EarthCube program will accept requests for supplements to support adoption of emerging EarthCube open web standards and existing cyberinfrastructure by science projects and data resources. Supplements must abide by the guidelines for supplements in the PAPPG. Prospective PIs should contact an EarthCube program director to discuss a potential supplement. The EarthCube program will accept requests for supplements of the following types: 1) Science adoption: Target broadening or enhancing existing geoscience projects to achieve new research and education outcomes through adoption of existing data and software tools (including, but not limited to, products from EarthCube projects). Possible projects include the adoption of data standards to support the science goals of a project. 2) Data resource adoption: Support data facilities and data resources to adopt robust standards and/or implementation of pilot tools/activities to improve discovery, interoperability and access to data and cyberinfrastructure services. In conjunction with EarthCube/Council of Data Facilities developments, these awards would facilitate adoption of new semantic web standards and machine-readable publishing patterns, such as for the EarthCube data repository and resource registries. These awards are meant for an initial implementation of these standards and are not meant to sustain existing core functions of data facilities. Full proposal deadline: March 12, 2020.
Despite centuries of discovery, most of our planet’s biodiversity remains unknown. The scale of Earth’s unknown diversity is especially troubling given the rapid and permanent loss of biodiversity across the globe. The goal of the Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign is to transform how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. This campaign promotes novel integrative approaches to fill the most substantial gaps in our understanding of the diversity of life on Earth. It takes a broad view of biodiversity, and focuses on the intersection of genetic, phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity. Successful proposals must integrate these three dimensions to understand interactions among them. The 2020 Dimensions of Biodiversity program is restricted to projects supported by international partnerships with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) of Brazil, and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa. Full Proposal Deadline: March 27, 2020.
The PI of an active NSF award may request supplemental funding for one or more graduate students to gain knowledge, skills and experiences that will augment their preparation for a successful long-term career through an internship in a non-academic setting, including the following: For-profit industry laboratories or industry research and development groups; Start-up businesses, such as (but not limited to) those funded through the NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program; Government agencies (all levels) and National Laboratories; Policy think-tanks; and Non-profit organizations. PIs are encouraged to discuss with the cognizant NSF program director activities that are synergistic with the project scope. It is expected that the graduate student and the PI on the NSF grant will work together to identify innovative experiences that add the most educational value for the graduate student on activities that are not already available at the student’s academic institution. Further, it is expected that the internship will be on-site at the host organization and will be research-focused in a STEM field or in STEM education research. The total amount of funding requested must not exceed $55,000 per student per six-month period. NSF plans to fund up to approximately 200 supplements in fiscal years FY 2019 and FY 2020, depending on the availability of funds. Supplemental funding requests may be submitted at any time but no later than May 1, 2019 (for available FY 2019 funds) and May 1, 2020 (for available FY 2020 funds).
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization. Activities pursued by early-career faculty should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research. NSF encourages submission of CAREER proposals from early-career faculty at all CAREER-eligible organizations and especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and persons with disabilities to apply. Full proposal deadline: July 27, 2020.
The primary goal of the UNOLS Cruise Opportunity Program is to provide graduate students currently completing (or who have recently completed) a degree in a field of oceanographic research with the opportunity to participate in a research cruise. The participant will be a member of the scientific party and be involved in data collection and all other activities at sea. It is envisioned that the individual will be familiar with the science to be conducted at sea, and thus, form new collaborations and potentially develop new research directions. To be eligible to participate in this program, the individual must be either currently be studying at a U.S.-based institution or a recent graduate, and must have either a U.S. Passport or a U.S. Work Visa. The application deadline for the Spring 2020 Deployment Operations cruises is February 28, 2020; for Fall 2020, the application deadline is August 3, 2020.
The OPUS program seeks to provide opportunities for mid- to later-career investigators to develop new understanding of science in the fields supported by the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) through two tracks of synthesis activities. OPUS: Mid-Career Synthesis. This track aims to provide a mid-career researcher, defined as a candidate at the associate professor rank (or equivalent), with new capabilities to enhance their productivity, improve their retention as a scientist, and ensure a diverse scientific workforce that remains engaged in active research (including more women and minorities at high academic ranks). This track provides an opportunity for the mid-career scientist to enable a new synthesis of their ongoing research. Synthesis is achieved by developing new research capabilities through collaboration with a mentor to enable new understanding of the research system and questions of interest. OPUS: Core Research Synthesis. This track provides an opportunity for an individual or a group of investigators to revisit and synthesize a significant body of their prior research in a way that will enable new understanding of their research system and questions of interest. This track would also be appropriate early enough in a career to produce unique, integrated insight useful both to the scientific community and to the development of the investigator’s future career. Proposal deadlines: August 28, 2019 and August 3, 2020.
The Biological Oceanography Program supports fundamental research in biological oceanography and marine ecology (populations to the ecosystems) broadly defined: relationships among aquatic organisms and their interactions with the environments of the oceans or Great Lakes. Projects submitted to the program are often interdisciplinary efforts that may include participation by other OCE Programs. Full proposal target dates: February 18, 2020 and August 17, 2020.
The Physical Oceanography Program supports research on a wide range of topics associated with the structure and movement of the ocean, with the way in which it transports various quantities, with the way the ocean’s physical structure interacts with the biological and chemical processes within it, and with interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere, solid earth and ice that surround it. Full proposal target dates: February 18, 2020 and August 17, 2020.
The Chemical Oceanography Program supports research into the chemistry of the oceans and the role of the oceans in global geochemical cycles. Areas of interest include chemical composition, speciation, and transformation; chemical exchanges between the oceans and other components of the Earth system; internal cycling in oceans, seas, and estuaries; and the use of measured chemical distributions as indicators of physical, biological, and geological processes. Full proposal target dates: February 18, 2020 and August 17, 2020.
The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) or in STEM education. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant research achievements in STEM or STEM education. NSF especially encourages women, members of underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, veterans, and undergraduate seniors to apply. Application deadlines October 21-25, 2019 and October 19-23, 2020.
The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) contributes to the IUSE initiative through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into the Geosciences – Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric Sciences (IUSE:GEOPAths) funding opportunity. IUSE:GEOPAths invites proposals that specifically address the current needs and opportunities related to education within the geosciences community through the formation of STEM Learning Ecosystems that engage students in the study of the Earth, its oceans, polar regions and atmosphere. The primary goal of the IUSE:GEOPAths funding opportunity is to increase the number of students pursuing undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees through the design and testing of novel approaches that engage students in authentic, career-relevant experiences in geoscience. In order to broaden participation in the geosciences, engaging students from historically excluded groups or from non-geoscience degree programs is a priority. While maintaining elements from the legacy tracks of GEOPATHS, this solicitation features three new funding tracks that focus on Geoscience Learning Ecosystems (GLEs): 1) GEOPAths: Informal Networks (IN). Collaborative projects in this track will support geoscience learning and experiences in informal settings for teachers, pre-college (e.g., upper level high school) students, and early undergraduates in the geosciences. 2) GEOPAths: Undergraduate Preparation (UP). Projects in this track will engage pre-college and undergraduate students in extra-curricular experiences and training in the geosciences with a focus on service learning [Reference 3 in the Program Description section] and workplace skill building. 3) GEOPAths: Graduate Opportunities (GO). Projects in this track will improve research and career-related pathways into the geosciences for undergraduate and graduate students through institutional collaborations with a focus on service learning and workplace skill building. Letter of Intent Due Dates: December 20, 2019 and November 17, 2020.
The NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program is designed to encourage the development and implementation of bold, new, and potentially transformative models for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate education training. The NRT program seeks proposals that explore ways for graduate students in research-based master’s and doctoral degree programs to develop the skills, knowledge, and competencies needed to pursue a range of STEM careers. The program is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas, through the use of a comprehensive traineeship model that is innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs. The NRT program addresses workforce development, emphasizing broad participation, and institutional capacity building needs in graduate education. Strategic collaborations with the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government agencies, national laboratories, field stations, teaching and learning centers, informal science centers, and academic partners are encouraged. NRT especially welcomes proposals that will pair well with the efforts of NSF Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) to develop STEM talent from all sectors and groups in our society. Collaborations are encouraged between NRT proposals and existing NSF INCLUDES projects, provided the collaboration strengthens both projects. Full Proposal Deadline Date: February 6, 2020; February 6, Annually Thereafter.
The Enabling Discovery through GEnomic Tools (EDGE) program supports genomic research that addresses the mechanistic basis of complex traits in diverse organisms within the context (environmental, developmental, social, and/or genomic) in which they function. The EDGE program also continues to support the development of innovative tools, technologies, resources, and infrastructure that advance biological research focused on the identification of the causal mechanisms connecting genes and phenotypes. EDGE is designed to provide support for (1) the development of tools, approaches, and infrastructure aimed at testing cause and effect hypotheses between gene function and phenotypes in diverse plants, animals, microbes, viruses, or fungi for which these methods are presently unavailable, and (2) hypothesis-driven research that tests cause and effect relations between genotype(s) and phenotypes in non-model plants, animals, microbes, viruses, or fungi. Proposals accepted anytime.
This Dear Colleague Letter provides updated information regarding the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) support of the marine seismic community need for long-term sustainable access to seismic data collection capability.
The Arctic plays host to a diverse range of microorganisms, including bacteria, algae, and viruses. The activity (or inactivity) or these microorganisms impacts the carbon and nutrient cycling among glaciers and soils, as well as the fertilization and productivity of Polar fjords and oceans, and the albedo of ice surfaces and thus the rate of sea-level rise. Microorganisms in cryospheric habitats must overcome a multitude of environmental stresses, including the freezing of water, desiccation, nutrient deficiencies, and exposure to UV irradiation. To counteract the potentially damaging effects of their harsh environment, they have evolved a range of adaptations. During extended periods of extremely harsh conditions (such as winter), dormancy is essential to enable life to persist. The PhD project seeks to measure the level of activity and dormancy of microorganisms from of a number of Arctic settings including glaciers and soils. This project will develop novel methods to determine the activity of microbial communities from Arctic habitats in situ and in the lab, and will involve laboratory and computational methods, with a possibility of Arctic fieldwork. The student will collaborate within a multi-disciplinary team across Queen Mary University of London and the Natural History Museum. The project would suit a student with an interest in environmental microbiology and biogeochemistry, and Arctic climate change. Opportunities for funding include London NERC DTP and QMUL Principal’s Postgraduate Research Studentships. For further information about the project, eligibility and future application deadlines in 2019/20, please contact Dr James Bradley.
The deep subsurface biosphere contains a vast proportion of Earth’s microbial life and organic carbon. In deep, energy-limited settings, microorganisms persist over extraordinarily long timescales with very slow metabolisms – constituting an important analogue to the potential for life beyond Earth. However, the subsurface is notoriously difficult to study because of its remoteness and limited access, as well as the low biomass concentrations and energy fluxes associated with microbial activity. Therefore, numerical models are pivotal in addressing how microorganisms endure, proliferate, and assemble in deep subsurface settings, and understanding the selective environmental pressures that determine energetic trade-offs between growth and maintenance activities. This PhD project provides the opportunity to work at the frontier of deep biosphere science by developing a microbially-explicit model for the subsurface. This model will provide quantitative insight into microbial and geochemical coupling in deep marine or terrestrial settings, and insight into the energetic limit of life. The project would suit a computational and numerate student with an interest in life in extreme environments, biogeochemistry, and microbial-biogeochemical modelling. Opportunities for funding include London NERC DTP and QMUL Principal’s Postgraduate Research Studentships. For further information about the project, eligibility and future application deadlines in 2019/20, please contact Dr James Bradley.
The primary goal of the UNOLS Cruise Opportunity Program is to provide graduate students currently completing (or who have recently completed) a degree in a field of oceanographic research with the opportunity to participate in a research cruise. The participant will be a member of the scientific party and be involved in data collection and all other activities at sea. It is envisioned that the individual will be familiar with the science to be conducted at sea, and thus, form new collaborations and potentially develop new research directions. To be eligible to participate in this program, the individual must be either currently be studying at a U.S.-based institution or a recent graduate, and must have either a U.S. Passport or a U.S. Work Visa. Please note that you are responsible for paying for your travel to/from the ship (unless otherwise noted), and at this time the UNOLS Office is unable to provide travel funds; however your advisor or institution may have some ideas.
The Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research (IIBR) program encourages new approaches to the acquisition and use of biological data to provide greater value to the scientific community. The IIBR program is especially interested in proposals that offer innovative and potentially transformative advances in the acquisition and use of biological data through the development of 1) informatics methods and resources for organizing, analyzing, and displaying complex data sets, 2) novel instrumentation and associated methods for collection of new data, and 3) multidisciplinary approaches to innovative infrastructure solutions in data acquisition, management, or analysis. It is expected that awards made in the IIBR program will stimulate advances that impact a significant segment of the biological research community supported by the NSF Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO). All fields of science supported by BIO are eligible for support under the IIBR program. Proposals accepted anytime.
Advances in the biological sciences are enabled by our capacity to acquire, manage, represent, and analyze biological information through the use of modern instrumentation and computational tools. Instrumentation Capacity for Biological Research (ICBR) invites proposals that specifically enable increased access to state of the art instrumentation in support of the biological sciences by (1) increasing access to a community of users through broadening of dissemination of such instrumentation, and (2) broadening access to state-of-the art instrumentation and facilities at a regional or national level. The “Rules of Life” is one of the NSF’s ten big ideas for future investment. Understanding these basic “Rules” and how they operate across scales of time, space, and complexity to determine how genes function and interact with the environment will enable us to predict the phenotype, structure, function, and behavior of organisms. Providing scientists with the instrumentation and resources necessary to make these discoveries requires investments in new instrumentation capabilities and extending access to existing instrumentation and experimental facilities. Competitive proposals under ICBR will expand access to new or existing instrumentation that supports a significant segment of the biological research community conducting research in areas supported by the NSF Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO). The program will support activities that (1) enhance the access to and dissemination of innovative instrumentation, and (2) promote and enable access to existing instrumentation facilities (ie. imaging, genomics, proteomics, etc.) at the regional or national level.
ICBR supports capacity building that may include (but is not limited to):
- Building a community of instrument users through broadening dissemination of new or significantly improved instrumentation
- Broadening of access to instrumentation or experimental facilities at the regional or national level that provide infrastructure for data collection that might not be otherwise available to researchers due to the cost of instrumentation, the lack of available resources on campus, or the requirement of otherwise unavailable technical expertise.
The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) Core Track supports research and training on evolutionary and ecological processes acting at the level of populations, species, communities, and ecosystems. DEB encourages research that elucidates fundamental principles that identify and explain the unity and diversity of life and its interactions with the environment over space and time. Research may incorporate field, laboratory, or collection-based approaches; observational or manipulative studies; synthesis activities; phylogenetic discovery projects; or theoretical approaches involving analytical, statistical, or computational modeling. Research addressing ecology and ecosystem science in the marine biome should be directed to the Biological Oceanography Program in the Division of Ocean Sciences; research addressing evolution and systematics in the marine biome should be directed to the Evolutionary Processes or Systematics and Biodiversity Science programs in DEB. All DEB programs also encourage proposals that leverage NSF-supported data networks, databases, centers, and other forms of scientific infrastructure, including but not limited to the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Environmental Data Initiative (EDI), and Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio). Rules of Life Track proposals that integrate across the scales in biological sciences are solicited to support research that spans from the population, species, community and ecosystem scales normally funded by DEB, to organismal, cellular and molecular scales typically funded by other divisions in the Biological Sciences. This track provides new opportunities to advance our understanding of the Rules of Life by new mechanisms for review and funding of proposals that would not ordinarily fit well within one division in the Biological Sciences Directorate. Proposals Accepted Anytime.
The goal of the Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) activity is to enhance the professional development of K-12 science educators through research experiences at the emerging frontiers of science in order to bring new knowledge into the classroom. BIO strongly encourages all of its grantees to make special efforts to identify talented teachers who can participate in this RET activity to integrate research and education. This special opportunity is the same opportunity that is specified in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) solicitation. We believe that encouraging active participation of teachers in on-going NSF projects is an excellent way to strengthen the scientific expertise of our nation’s teachers. Another goal of the RET supplement activity is to build collaborative relationships between K-12 science educators and the NSF research community. BIO is particularly interested in encouraging its researchers to build mutually rewarding partnerships with teachers at urban or rural schools and those in school districts with limited resources. Before submitting an RET request (as part of a new or renewal NSF proposal or as a supplemental funding request to an existing NSF award), we strongly encourage the Principal Investigator to initiate a conversation via email or phone with the program director of his/her particular NSF award, or the cognizant program director for the program to which s/he is submitting a proposal.
NSF celebrates the progress that U.S. institutions of higher education have made in bringing diversity to the science and engineering enterprise. Strategies to successfully broaden participation during pre-college years will help to ensure a diverse pool of future students, faculty and researchers. As a part of a new or renewal NSF proposal or as a supplemental funding request to an existing NSF Award, the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) will consider requests that: 1) Foster interest in the pursuit of studies in the Biological Sciences; and 2) Broaden participation of high school students, particularly those who are underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and women in sub-disciplines where they are underrepresented.
The Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) provides awards to Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska Native-serving institutions, and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions to promote high quality science (including sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, statistics, and other social and behavioral sciences as well as natural sciences), technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, research, and outreach. Support is available:
- To TCUP-eligible institutions for transformative capacity-building projects
- collaborations that involve multiple institutions of higher education, led by TCUP institutions. Including the Partnerships for Geoscience Education (PAGE), proposals due June 11, 2018.
- To individual faculty members for research studies at TCUP institutions. Including Small Grants for Research (SGR) projects, proposals due December 10, 2018.
The Deep Life Community (DLC) within the Sloan Foundation supported Deep Carbon Observatory realizes that the majority of deep microbial life has been resistant to cultivation in the laboratory, which complicates the characterization of physiological characteristics of deep community members. However, recent studies using bioreactor-cultivation techniques, under high pressure and/or temperature, have resulted in successful enrichment of previously uncultivable archaeal and bacterial components that mediate biogeochemical carbon cycling in deep subsurface (1-7). In order to maintain and strengthen cultivation strategies in future deep life missions, the DLC will support early-carrier researchers to visit some key laboratories (Inagaki – Kochi, Japan, Bartlett – La Jolla, USA, and others) to learn and practice newly developed cultivation and cultivation-dependent molecular/biogeochemical techniques using samples from the DLC’s field missions. Financial support includes $5,400 per person for travel and lodging costs and host lab research supply reimbursement. Interested applicants should send their cv, a brief one page statement of their cultivation plans, and a letter of support from their intended host to Fumio Inagaki (email@example.com ) and Douglas Bartlett (firstname.lastname@example.org).
C-DEBI facilitates scientific coordination and collaborations by supporting student, postdoctoral, and faculty exchanges to build, educate and train the deep subseafloor biosphere community. We award small research exchange grants for Center participants. These grants may be used to support research, travel for presenting C-DEBI research at meetings, or travel exchanges to other partner institutions or institutions that have new tools and techniques that can be applied to C-DEBI research. We anticipate ~10 awards of $500-5000 with additional matched funds to be granted annually.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites investigators at U.S. organizations to submit proposals to the Arctic Sciences Section, Division of Polar Programs (PLR) to conduct research about the Arctic region. The goal of this solicitation is to attract research proposals that advance a fundamental, process, and systems-level understanding of the Arctic’s rapidly changing natural environment and social and cultural systems, and, where appropriate, to improve our capacity to project future change. The Arctic Sciences Section supports research focused on the Arctic region and its connectivity with lower latitudes. The scientific scope is aligned with, but not limited to, research challenges outlined in the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (https://www.nsf.gov/geo/plr/arctic/iarpc/start.jsp) five-year plans. The Arctic Sciences Section coordinates with programs across NSF and with other federal and international partners to co-review and co-fund Arctic proposals as appropriate. The Arctic Sciences Section also maintains Arctic logistical infrastructure and field support capabilities that are available to enable research. Proposals accepted anytime.
The U.S. Science Support Program sponsors Pre-Drilling Activities to provide funds in quick response to an opportunity to acquire data or information that will enhance a drilling expedition. Priority is given to projects that support expeditions already on the ship’s schedule. The definition of this activity is deliberately flexible to allow consideration of exceptional or unusual requests for drill site data enhancement.
Editors: Andrew McCaig, Peter Kelemen, Gretchen Früh-Green and Damon Teagle
This theme issue brings together international scientists working on all aspects of serpentinisation, a process that may have been important for the origin of life on Earth and perhaps other planets. Serpentine is also a key carrier of water to depth in subduction zones, leading to intermediate depth earthquakes and the formation of island arc volcanoes. This issue is based on a Royal Society discussion meeting held in November 2018.
The isotopic composition of lipid biomarkers and biomass in sedimentary environments are widely used to infer microbial metabolisms and constrain carbon cycling processes. It has been observed that metabolic energy availability in the form of H2 impacts the stable carbon isotopes of CH4 during hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis, but it is unknown whether this relationship extends to lipids and amino acids. Since lipids and amino acids are long-lived, they can be used to reconstruct past conditions over geologic timescales. Therefore, the controls on their isotopic signatures are important to constrain to better interpret past environments.
In this study, the isotopic distributions of carbon metabolized and reduced by the hyperthermophile Methanocaldococcus jannaschii were quantified following growth at 82 °C in a chemostat with high (80–83 µM) and low (15–27 µM) H2 concentrations. As has been shown previously, the stable carbon isotope fractionation factors for CH4 were >15‰ larger in low H2 experiments than in high H2 experiments. Lipid biomarkers and amino acids were similarly impacted with approximately 10‰ larger fractionation factors under low H2 conditions. The increase in fractionation factors can be related to the lower availability of thermodynamic energy, suggesting that even larger fractionation factors would be observed in methanogens living close to their threshold energy needs, as they do in most environments. The resulting isotopic signatures of long-lived lipid biomarkers synthesized by hydrogenotrophic methanogens may become as ‘superlight’ as those synthesized by archaea carrying out the anaerobic oxidation of methane. These results help to describe the underlying mechanisms that determine the isotopic composition of long-lived biomarkers and provide constraints for interpreting these signatures in the environment.
AbstractUnderstanding the emergence of metabolic pathways is key to unraveling the factors that promoted the origin of life. One popular view is that protein cofactors acted as catalysts prior to the evolution of the protein enzymes with which they are now associated. We investigated the stability of acetyl coenzyme A (Acetyl Co-A, the group transfer cofactor in citric acid synthesis in the TCA cycle) under early Earth conditions, as well as whether Acetyl Co-A or its small molecule analogs thioacetate or acetate can catalyze the transfer of an acetyl group onto oxaloacetate in the absence of the citrate synthase enzyme. Several different temperatures, pH ranges, and compositions of aqueous environments were tested to simulate the Earth’s early ocean and its possible components; the effect of these variables on oxaloacetate and cofactor chemistry were assessed under ambient and anoxic conditions. The cofactors tested are chemically stable under early Earth conditions, but none of the three compounds (Acetyl Co-A, thioacetate, or acetate) promoted synthesis of citric acid from oxaloacetate under the conditions tested. Oxaloacetate reacted with itself and/or decomposed to form a sequence of other products under ambient conditions, and under anoxic conditions was more stable; under ambient conditions the specific chemical pathways observed depended on the environmental conditions such as pH and presence/absence of bicarbonate or salt ions in early Earth ocean simulants. This work demonstrates the stability of these metabolic intermediates under anoxic conditions. However, even though free cofactors may be stable in a geological environmental setting, an enzyme or other mechanism to promote reaction specificity would likely be necessary for at least this particular reaction to proceed.
AbstractZetaproteobacteria are obligate chemolithoautotrophs that oxidize Fe(II) as an electron and energy source, and play significant roles in nutrient cycling and primary production in the marine biosphere. Zetaproteobacteria thrive under microoxic conditions near oxic–anoxic interfaces, where they catalyze Fe(II) oxidation faster than the abiotic reaction with oxygen. Neutrophilic Fe(II) oxidizing bacteria produce copious amounts of insoluble iron oxyhydroxides as a by-product of their metabolism. Oxygen consumption by aerobic respiration and formation of iron oxyhydroxides at oxic–anoxic interfaces can result in periods of oxygen limitation for bacterial cells. Under laboratory conditions, all Zetaproteobacteria isolates have been shown to strictly require oxygen as an electron acceptor for growth, and anaerobic metabolism has not been observed. However, genomic analyses indicate a range of potential anaerobic pathways present in Zetaproteobacteria. Heterologous expression of proteins from Mariprofundus ferrooxydans PV-1, including pyruvate formate lyase and acetate kinase, further support a capacity for anaerobic metabolism. Here we define auxiliary anaerobic metabolism as a mechanism to provide maintenance energy to cells and suggest that it provides a survival advantage to Zetaproteobacteria in environments with fluctuating oxygen availability.
Authors: T.C. Onstott, B.L. Ehlmann, H. Sapers, M. Coleman, M. Ivarsson, J.J. Marlow, A. Neubeck, P. Niles
Abstract: Here we review published studies on the abundance and diversity of terrestrial rock-hosted life, the environments it inhabits, the evolution of its metabolisms, and its fossil biomarkers to provide guidance in the search for life on Mars. Key findings are (1) much terrestrial deep subsurface metabolic activity relies on abiotic energy-yielding fluxes and in situ abiotic and biotic recycling of metabolic waste products rather than on buried organic products of photosynthesis; (2) subsurface microbial cell concentrations are highest at interfaces with pronounced chemical redox gradients or permeability variations and do not correlate with bulk host rock organic carbon; (3) metabolic pathways for chemolithoautotrophic microorganisms evolved earlier in Earth’s history than those of surface-dwelling phototrophic microorganisms; (4) the emergence of the former occurred at a time when Mars was habitable, whereas the emergence of the latter occurred at a time when the martian surface was not continually habitable; (5) the terrestrial rock record has biomarkers of subsurface life at least back hundreds of millions of years and likely to 3.45 Ga with several examples of excellent preservation in rock types that are quite different from those preserving the photosphere-supported biosphere. These findings suggest that rock-hosted life would have been more likely to emerge and be preserved in a martian context. Consequently, we outline a Mars exploration strategy that targets subsurface life and scales spatially, focusing initially on identifying rocks with evidence for groundwater flow and low-temperature mineralization, then identifying redox and permeability interfaces preserved within rock outcrops, and finally focusing on finding minerals associated with redox reactions and associated traces of carbon and diagnostic chemical and isotopic biosignatures. Using this strategy on Earth yields ancient rock-hosted life, preserved in the fossil record and confirmable via a suite of morphologic, organic, mineralogical, and isotopic fingerprints at micrometer scale. We expect an emphasis on rock-hosted life and this scale-dependent strategy to be crucial in the search for life on Mars.
Meet the 2017 summer line up for the Community College Cultivation Cohort (C4) REU. We are proud to have been a step in their scientific pathway. Learn more about the C4 REU and be sure to meet our latest, undergraduate GEM Course students!
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.
Sign up for the C-DEBI biweekly newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news and opportunities for anyone interested in the deep subseafloor biosphere. The mailing list is also used for occasional event announcements and requests for proposals.