C-DEBI Newsletter – August 16, 2019
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Publications & Press

Nature Communications
Subseafloor life and its biogeochemical impacts - NEW!
Steven D’Hondt*, Robert Pockalny, Victoria M. Fulfer, Arthur J. Spivack
*C-DEBI Contribution 454

Subseafloor microbial activities are central to Earth’s biogeochemical cycles. They control Earth’s surface oxidation and major aspects of ocean chemistry. They affect climate on long timescales and play major roles in forming and destroying economic resources. In this review, we evaluate present understanding of subseafloor microbes and their activities, identify research gaps, and recommend approaches to filling those gaps. Our synthesis suggests that chemical diffusion rates and reaction affinities play a primary role in controlling rates of subseafloor activities. Fundamental aspects of subseafloor communities, including features that enable their persistence at low catabolic rates for millions of years, remain unknown.

The ISME Journal
High proportions of bacteria and archaea across most biomes remain uncultured - NEW!
Andrew D. Steen*, Alexander Crits-Christoph, Paul Carini, Kristen M. DeAngelis, Noah Fierer, Karen G. Lloyd*, J. Cameron Thrash
*C-DEBI Contribution 482

A recent paper by Martiny argues that “high proportions” of bacteria in diverse Earth environments have been cultured. Here we reanalyze a portion of the data in that paper, and argue that the conclusion is based on several technical errors, most notably a calculation of sequence similarity that does not account for sequence gaps, and the reliance on 16S rRNA gene amplicons that are known to be biased towards cultured organisms. We further argue that the paper is also based on a conceptual error: namely, that sequence similarity cannot be used to infer “culturability” because one cannot infer physiology from 16S rRNA gene sequences. Combined with other recent, more reliable studies, the evidence supports the conclusion that most bacterial and archaeal taxa remain uncultured.
Have an upcoming manuscript about the deep subseafloor biosphere and want to increase your press coverage? NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs is looking to coordinate press releases between your home institution and the NSF to coincide with the date of publication. Please contact us as soon as your publication is accepted!

IODP-USSSP: Summer 2019 Ocean Discovery Newsletter - NEW!
Featuring an article about the upcoming IODP Expedition 385: Guaymas Basin Tectonics and Biosphere from co-chiefs Andreas Teske and Daniel Lizarralde!


Meetings & Activities

IODP: New Science Plan Structure & Road Map open for community comment through 26 August - NEW!
In July 2019, eighteen international delegates comprising the Science Plan Working Group met to produce a Science Plan Structure and Road Map document highlighting the commonalities in the workshop outcomes and indicating a potential way forward towards a new science plan. This Science Plan Structure and Road Map document is now available for community commenting before it will be discussed at the annual meeting of the IODP Forum in Osaka in September 2019. Now is a key moment in which the IODP community can provide input, in particular to the overall new structure of the proposed science plan. In January and March 2020 there will be two other commenting cycles, when successive drafts of the future science plan will be made available to the community on the website. As this is a new plan in support of the future generations of scientific ocean drilling researchers, we especially seek input from early- and mid-career scientists. Please respond before August 26, 2019.

UNOLS: Deep Submergence Science Committee (DeSSC) Call for Nominations - NEW!
The UNOLS Deep Submergence Science Committee (DeSSC) is seeking nominations to fill one membership vacancy that will become open in the fall of 2019. The DESSC is the UNOLS Committee charged with providing oversight and advice to the National Deep Submergence Facility (NDSF) operator on matters concerning utilization, upgrades, and long-term planning of its vehicles (Alvin, Jason, and Sentry). The Committee strives to maintain awareness of the needs of the users for new sensors and equipment to address important scientific questions, and to provide this information to the NDSF operator and the federal agencies. Additionally the Committee works to engage early career scientists and promote outreach initiatives on the use of NDSF vehicles in deep submergence research. Candidates should be experienced in the use of deep submergence vehicles. For additional information about DeSSC, visit the Committee website. For information about committee responsibilities contact the DESSC Chair, Anna-Louise Reysenbach at or Alice Doyle ( Terms of office are three years, with the possibility of re-appointment for a second term. The DeSSC has a spring meeting at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and then there is a community meeting prior to the annual AGU meeting each year. Applicants or nominees should submit a brief statement of interest in serving on DeSSC along with a CV to Alice Doyle of the UNOLS office by email ( Experience using deep submergence facilities should be highlighted in the statement of interest. Committee members are appointed by the UNOLS Chair based on the recommendation of the DeSSC and with the concurrence of the UNOLS Council. Applications due September 13, 2019.

ISSM: Submit your abstracts to the 11th ISSM conference, June 14-19, 2020, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Abstracts due in September 2019.

UCSD: Guaymas Science Symposium, September 16, 2019, Scripps Forum

Ongoing Activities:


Proposal Calls

NSF: Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS)
Full proposal deadline: August 28, 2019 and August 3, 2020.

NSF: Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU)
Full Proposal Deadline: August 28, 2019.

International Research Experiences for Students (IRES)
Full Proposal Deadlines: September 10, 2019 (Track I), September 17, 2019 (Track II) and September 24, 2019 (Track III).

Moore Foundation / Simons Foundation: Origin of the Eukaryotic Cell
The deadline for submitting a proposal is September 30, 2019.

IODP: Apply to Sail on IODP Expedition 391 - NEW!
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is now accepting applications for scientific participants on Expedition 391 Walvis Ridge Hotspot aboard the JOIDES Resolution. Expedition 391 is a scientific ocean drilling project that seeks to understand the geodynamic significance and origin of the Walvis Ridge (WR), a long-lived hotspot trail that began ~132 Ma at the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean. Because of its duration and volcanic expression, WR is the most influential of Atlantic hotspots and is thought to have a deep mantle plume source that can be projected to the edge of the African large low shear wave velocity province (LLSVP), a hypothesized plume generation zone. The hotspot displays long-lived (since ~70 Ma) isotopic zonation, a characteristic thought to originate at the LLSVP edge, and may be the first example of a hotspot split into three isotopically distinct seamount chains. The hotspot interacted with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) for most of its early history, producing both the WR and Rio Grande Rise (RGR). Valdivia Bank, a WR plateau, may have formed with the RGR around a microplate, and this added complexity raises questions about simple plume models and the geodynamic implications of this hotspot trail. Opportunities exist for researchers (including graduate students) in all shipboard specialties, including but not limited to sedimentologists, petrologists, micropaleontologists, paleomagnetists, petrophysicists, borehole geophysicists, inorganic and organic geochemists, and microbiologists. The deadline to apply to sail is October 1, 2019.

NSF: Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) - NEW!
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.

NSF: Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations (AccelNet)
Letter of intent due date: October 30, 2019.

NASA: Postdoctoral Program Opportunities
Please contact Orcutt at or on Twitter @DeepMicrobe to discuss your interest in this opportunity. Fellowship applications due Nov 1, 2019.

NSF: Research Traineeship (NRT) Program
Next letter of intent window: November 25, 2019 – December 6, 2019.

Rolling Calls:



GFZ Potsdam: Research Associate (PostDoc) in Geomicrobiology of Ore Deposits
Please submit your application online by August 20, 2019.

Tokyo Institute of Technology: Principal Investigator (Professor or Associate Professor), Earth-Life Science Institute
Application deadline: August 30, 2019.

MSU: Postdoctoral Positions in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology: PhD / PostDoc position

MBL: Computational Postdoctoral Scientist

DRI: Postdoctoral Fellow, Microbial Ecology: Genomes to Phenomes

UH Manoa: Assistant Researcher (Theoretical Ecologist)

Don’t forget to email me with any items you'd like to share in future newsletters! We will also broadcast this information on our social media outlets, Twitter and Facebook. You are what makes our deep biosphere community!


Matthew Janicak
Data Manager
Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)
University of Southern California
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, AHF 209, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0371
Phone: 708-691-9563, Fax: 213-740-2437

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