Awardee: Jason B. Sylvan (University of Southern California)
Current Placement: Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University
Degree: Ph.D. Biological Oceanography, Rutgers University (2008)
Advisor: Katrina J. Edwards (University of Southern California)
Amount: $100,000.00
Award Dates: June 1, 2011 — January 31, 2013


This project sought primarily to better understand microbiology on inactive hydrothermal sulfide chimneys and seafloor exposed silicate rocks (basalts, andesites) and secondarily to develop protocols for analyzing microbial diversity using the newly developed (at the time of the project) Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine. Analyzing the 16S rRNA gene, Sylvan et al. (2013) found that there is a correlation with microbial phyla and geochemistry in Lau Basin, where clear patterns in silicate geochemistry occur with distance from the spreading axis. Additionally, a clade of bacteria in the phylum Bacteroidetes was discovered to be resident to sulfidic environments, including hydrothermal sulfides, sediments and the water column in oxygen minimum zones. This clade was named the Sulphiphilic Bacteroidetes clade. As part of this fellowship, Sylvan also developed protocols to employ the Ion Torrent PGM to use pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA (published in Jacobson Meyers et al., 2013) and initial metagenome sequencing from the Lau Basin inactive sulfide samples. Further, deeper sequencing is needed for publication of those results, and it was deemed that the Ion Torrent is not a good platform for metagenome sequencing from deep sea environments due to high error rate and low output compared to Illumina sequencing.