2015-2016 Research Focus Area Workshops

In 2015, the C-DEBI theme workshops were replaced by biome (basement and sediment) workshops integrated across the research themes to review the state of knowledge at the end of Phase 1. Subsequently, a workshop on the origins and movement of life was held in conjunction with the Deep Carbon Observatory in 2016.

DCO-C-DEBI Origins and Movements Workshop, 9-10 May, 2016

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Organizers: Tom Kieft (New Mexico Tech) & Doug LaRowe (USC)

A deep-seated question in deep life studies is: what is the origin of subsurface microbes? More specific questions include: 1) how recently and along what flow paths have surface microbes been transported to the subsurface; 2) in the case of deep sediments, have microbes remained immobile since being buried along with the sediment, and 3) to what extent have microbes evolved adaptations to subsurface conditions, i.e., has microbial speciation occurred in sediments and fractures? Addressing these fundamental questions requires novel interdisciplinary approaches, and in the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and C-DEBI jointly sponsored workshop “Origins and Movements of Subsurface Microbes”, we brought together experts in groundwater dating, hydrogeological flow and transport modeling, genomics, and evolutionary microbiology.  Participants were selected based on expertise in one or more of these research areas and also with the aim of achieving a gender-balanced, international assemblage of marine and continental subsurface investigators that included both early career and established scientists.  Twenty-one scientists participated in the meeting; nineteen were onsite and two participated remotely.  In addition to plenary lectures on relevant topics, breakout sessions were held to stimulate discussion of the current state of knowledge as well as opportunities for new field and lab studies, resulting in the planning of several manuscripts.

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C-DEBI Basement Workshop, 9-10 July 2015

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Organizers: Jason Sylvan (USC) & Julie Huber (MBL)

The initial invitation for the workshop summarized the desired outcomes: as the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) enters the final stage of Phase I, we are organizing a workshop to synthesize what we have learned about the microbial ecology of subseafloor basement environments, including igneous rocks and crustal fluids. Topics of discussion will include where the bleeding edge of subseafloor crustal microbiology lies, the biggest current obstacles to overcome, commonalities between sites and regimes that have come to light over the last five years (or more), and what questions will be most exciting to address in the coming decade. We are looking for input from microbial ecologists as well as geochemists and petrologists to help synthesize the current research and try to invigorate the community with interdisciplinary goals for the next phase of C-DEBI. Unlike previous C-DEBI workshops, this one will not focus on a specific theme, such as activity or diversity, but will rather look at the entirety of crustal microbiology. We hope you can join us in Boston this July for a few days of stimulating and productive discussions.

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C-DEBI Sediment Workshop, 25-26 June 2015

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Organizers: Karen Lloyd (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) & Steven D’Hondt (URI)

The 2015 C-DEBI Sediment Workshop was held at the University of Southern California, June 25-26. There were 16 in-person attendees and 2 people participating remotely. During the first part of the first day, each participant gave a short presentation on a research project or interest relevant to the subseafloor sedimentary biosphere. For the remainder of the first day and the second day, the participants engaged in group discussion of the following three questions about the deep subseafloor sedimentary biosphere: 1. What is known? 2. What are the major questions? 3. How can we go about answering these questions?

Read the Workshop Report