C-DEBI Newsletter – November 1, 2013
This newsletter is also accessible via our website.

Dear C-DEBI,

C-DEBI will return to the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco this December.  We hope to see you at the exhibitors booth and many C-DEBI-related sessions such as Deep Biosphere Research: Presence, Diversity and Activity of Microbes (see more in the 8/1 newsletter).  Tell us what other sessions/activities to advertise and we will see you there!

Also note that we have updated our Ethics Panel with Karen Lloyd as the new chair and invited Bill Orsi onto the committee to take over her previous postdoctoral representative role; Andy Fisher has also stepped in as the new ExCom representative. Thank you to Rick Colwell and Sharon Cooper for their continued commitment. Please visit the website for our Ethics Policies to learn more.

Proposal Calls

Schmidt Ocean Institute: Pre-Proposals Invited for Oceanographic Research on R/V Falkor in 2016
Schmidt Ocean Institute invites Expressions of Interest in collaborative research cruises on R/V Falkor in 2016. The 2015 research cruise planning process is in progress, and we anticipate that the R/V Falkor will be operating in the Western Pacific Ocean in 2015.  The target region of scientific operations for 2016 will be determined based on the review of the Expressions of Interest received in response to this call. Submissions will be excepted through December 6, 2013.

IODP: Apply Today: Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship
The Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship program offers merit-based awards for outstanding graduate students to conduct research related to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and/or its successor, the International Ocean Discovery Program. The application deadline is November 15, 2013.

NSF: Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12)
The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Full proposal deadline: December 06, 2013.

NSF: Ocean Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowships (OCE-PRF)
The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) offers postdoctoral research fellowships to provide opportunities for scientists early in their careers to work within and across traditional disciplinary lines, develop partnerships, and avail themselves of unique resources, sites and facilities. Full proposal target date: January 13, 2014.

IODP: Apply to Sail: Two Indian Ocean Expeditions
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) has begun accepting applications for two expeditions aboard the JOIDES Resolution: Indian Monsoon Rainfall and Bengal Fan. U.S.-affiliated scientists interested in participating in this expedition should apply to sail through the U.S. Science Support Program of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; please visit: The deadline to apply is 15 January 2014.

Hot Off the Press: Quantifying the Degradation of Organic Matter in Marine Sediments: A Review and Synthesis (C-DEBI Contribution 182) in Earth-Science Reviews
Quantifying the rates of biogeochemical processes in marine sediments is essential for understanding global element cycles and climate change. Because organic matter degradation is the engine behind benthic dynamics, deciphering the impact that various forces have on this process is central to determining the evolution of the Earth system. Therefore, recent developments in the quantitative modeling of organic matter degradation in marine sediments are critically reviewed. The first part of the review synthesizes the main chemical, biological and physical factors that control organic matter degradation in sediments while the second part provides a general review of the mathematical formulations used to model these processes and the third part evaluates their application over different spatial and temporal scales. Key transport mechanisms in sedimentary environments are summarized and the mathematical formulation of the organic matter degradation rate law is described in detail. The roles of enzyme kinetics, bioenergetics, temperature and biomass growth in particular are highlighted. Alternative model approaches that quantify the degradation rate constant are also critically compared. In the third part of the review, the capability of different model approaches to extrapolate organic matter degradation rates over a broad range of temporal and spatial scales is assessed. In addition, the structure, functions and parameterization of more than 250 published models of organic matter degradation in marine sediments are analyzed. The large range of published model parameters illustrates the complex nature of organic matter dynamics, and, thus, the limited transferability of these parameters from one site to another. Compiled model parameters do not reveal a statistically significant correlation with single environmental characteristics such as water depth, deposition rate or organic matter flux. The lack of a generic framework that allows for model parameters to be constrained in data-poor areas seriously limits the quantification of organic matter degradation on a global scale. Therefore, we explore regional patterns that emerge from the compiled more than 250 organic matter rate constants and critically discuss them in their environmental context. This review provides an interdisciplinary view on organic matter degradation in marine sediments. It contributes to an improved understanding of global patterns in benthic organic matter degradation, and helps identify outstanding questions and future directions in the modeling of organic matter degradation in marine sediments.

Pressure as an Environmental Parameter for Microbial Life — A Review in Biophysical Chemistry
Microbial life has been prevailing in the biosphere for the last 3.8 Ga at least. Throughout most of the Earth's history it has experienced a range of pressures; both dynamic pressure when the young Earth was heavily bombarded, and static pressure in subsurface environments that could have served as a refuge and where microbial life nowadays flourishes. In this review, A. Picard and I. Daniel discuss the extent of high-pressure habitats in early and modern times and provide a short overview of microbial survival under dynamic pressures. They summarize the current knowledge about the impact of microbial activity on biogeochemical cycles under pressures characteristic of the deep subsurface. They evaluate the possibility that pressure can be a limiting parameter for life at depth. Finally, they discuss the open questions and knowledge gaps that exist in the field of high-pressure geomicrobiology.

How Climate Change Affects Microbial Life Below the Seafloor in Science Daily
Traces of past microbial life in sediments off the coast of Peru document how the microbial ecosystem under the seafloor has responded to climate change over hundreds of thousands of years. For more than a decade scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and their colleagues at MARUM and the University of Aarhus have investigated microbial life from this habitat. This "Deep Biosphere," reaching several hundred metres below the seafloor, is exclusively inhabited by microbes and is generally considered as stable. Nevertheless, only little is known about how this system developed over millennia and how this microbial life influences the cycling of carbon in the oceans. In a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Dr. Sergio Contreras, a palaeoceanographer, and his Bremen colleagues use a careful examination of drill-cores from the continental shelf of Peru to actually show how surprisingly dynamic this deeply buried ecosystem can be.

Activities and Workshops

C-DEBI and the College of Exploration: "Microbes down below! Exploring life beneath the ocean floor." FREE on-line workshop designed for community college instructors and high school teachers. Open to all.
Monday, November 4 – Friday, November 15, 2013
Registration and more information at:

COSEE: Professional Development Workshop for Early Career Scientists
The workshop takes place February 23, 2014 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu, HI.
Fill out our pre-registration form to reserve your spot now. For additional information, please contact Dr. Carrie Ferraro or Janice McDonnell.

IODP: Education & Outreach Opportunities
Deep Earth Academy is compiling a list of enthusiastic IODP scientists and graduate students interested in sharing their science and career history with audiences of all kinds at one of the many events in which we participate or host. Please email a CV to Jennifer Collins ( if you would like to join the team or if you have questions. We will let you know when there is an opportunity in your region. Thank you in advance for your time and commitment!

ISSM 2014: Ninth International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology
Early registration opens in August, and more information is available at

Located on the water's edge at the University’s Narragansett Bay Campus, GSO is the state's center for marine studies, research and outreach. Students, faculty and staff collaboratively address the science questions and challenges of today. Each new faculty member will be expected to develop strong externally funded research programs, advise graduate students, and teach undergraduate and graduate courses. Applications will be reviewed beginning January 7, 2013 and continue until the positions are filled. Visit for more information about the positions and GSO. The University of Rhode Island is an AA/EEOD employer and values diversity.

ExxonMobil: Postdoctoral Fellow - Microbiology
To view posting and/or apply, go to and search for Microbiology.

Review of applications will begin on receipt with a deadline of November 10th for full consideration.

University of Exeter: Two Postdoctoral Research Positions: Unculturable Protists & Fungi, Single Cell Genomics
Two postdoctoral research positions are available in the laboratory of Dr. Thomas Richards at the University of Exeter, UK. Applications due November 13, 2013.

Job description at: Questions regarding this position can be directed to Review of applications will commence November 15, 2013.

We seek an internationally competitive researcher with a strong academic track record in Astrobiology. The application is due December 2, 2013.


Don’t forget to email me with any items you'd like to share in future newsletters! You are what makes our deep biosphere community!
Matthew Janicak
Administrative Assistant
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

Exploring life beneath the seafloor and making transformative discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inspire people of all ages and origins.

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