Awardee: Jacqueline Goordial (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)
Current Placement: Postdoctoral Researcher, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Degree: Ph.D. Environmental Microbiology, McGill University (2015)
Advisor: Beth N. Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences)
Amount: $233,801.00
Award Dates: December 1, 2016 — November 30, 2018

Abstract

Though there is increasing understanding of the ecology, diversity and activity of microbial life in deep sediments, little is known about the microbial life inhabiting oceanic crust, in part due to the challenges inherent to low biomass settings. This C-DEBI project investigated the use of fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) as a means of concentrating microbial cells from low biomass samples for downstream DNA sequencing. Community level amplicon and metagenomic sequencing, and single microbial cell DNA analysis was carried out on Atlantis Massif oceanic crust and sediment samples collected during IODP x357. Oceanic crust communities were composed of low diversity and largely uncharacterized phlya. Functional gene analyses revealed microbial communities that have the genomic potential for using carbon monoxide as a carbon and/or energy source, as well as genes that hint at metal tolerance, motility and biofilm formation in the subsurface. In addition, this project investigated differential staining techniques to probe activity at the single cell level in low biomass settings. Individual microbial cells that were identified as active through the use of Bioorthogonal Amino Acid tagging (BONCAT) and Redox sensor green, were combined with community level and single cell sorting methods to separate and obtain genomic information from active and total crustal subsurface microbial communities at North Pond (RV Atlantis, Oct 2017). This work demonstrated distinct active and total communities, and generated partial genomes from over 300 individual microbial cells inhabiting oceanic crust.

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