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).

This is an archive of the website for the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) ended in 2022.

July 2022 Updates
Posted: July 18, 2022

Message from the Managing Director:

Being a part of C-DEBI has been a huge part of my life. I truly enjoyed getting to know so many of you and supporting the framework for moving deep biosphere research and education programs forward in our Center’s 12 years. As C-DEBI comes to an end officially at the end of September, there are various transitions happening at the same time. As many of you know, I have joined the COBRA-AccelNet team (with overlapping C-DEBI Leadership by Beth Orcutt, Julie Huber, Andy Fisher and Geoff Wheat), so after C-DEBI ends, you can find me on the Bigelow Laboratory staff. In the meantime, I’ll be wrapping up C-DEBI after my upcoming maternity leave starting in mid-August. This won’t be our last communication, but with all these moving parts, there will be a few newsletters on hiatus.

To keep those of you interested in the deep biosphere engaged in the future, we will be migrating all on the C-DEBI newsletter to the COBRA newsletter where we will share similar content related to the crustal biosphere monthly. If you aren’t interested, unsubscribe when you receive the first newsletter in the next month.

Hope to cross paths with you again someday, somewhere!
Rosalynn Sylvan
C-DEBI Managing Director

Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Farewell C-DEBI Virtual Meeting Series - Hello to COBRA webinars!
Posted: June 17, 2022
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
December 2021 Greetings
Posted: December 1, 2021
Education and Outreach
Frontiers for Young Minds
Microbial Life Deep Under the Seafloor—A Story of Not Giving Up
Posted: June 1, 2020
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Integrative Programs Program Director (Rotator) within the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
Posted: May 12, 2022
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
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Virtual Meeting Series Archive: The Many Ways to Use Anvi’o, a Platform for Microbial ‘Omics
Posted: June 17, 2022
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations
Virtual Meeting Series Archive: Sampling Oceanic Crustal Fluids
Posted: March 5, 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
IODP U.S. Science Support Program
Pre-Drilling Activities
Posted: May 17, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
Posted: May 17, 2022
Posted: May 17, 2022
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences (GEOPAths)
Posted: February 2, 2022
Cruise Opportunity Program
Posted: June 27, 2019
Quantifying the Bioavailable Energy in an Ancient Hydrothermal Vent on Mars and a Modern Earth-Based Analog
Published: April 1, 2023
Nature Microbiology
Evolutionary diversification of methanotrophic ANME-1 archaea and their expansive virome
Published: January 19, 2023
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Chemistry of springs across the Mariana forearc: Carbon flux from the subducting plate triggered by the lawsonite-to-epidote transition?
Published: January 1, 2023
Nature Communications
Transfer efficiency of organic carbon in marine sediments
Published: November 26, 2022
Molecular Ecology
Globally‐distributed microbial eukaryotes exhibit endemism at deep‐sea hydrothermal vents
Published: November 23, 2022
2020 SOLID-GEM Course All-Stars
Posted: July 13, 2022
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 was 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 expanded its collection of 15 Second Science videos and other multimedia to include resources about the deep biosphere and sub-seafloor life.