C-DEBI Newsletter – September 2, 2014
This newsletter is also accessible via our website.

Meetings, Workshops and Activities

JAMSTEC: International Workshop for Large-scale Research Cruises, November 6-7, 2014, Yokohama, Japan
JAMSTEC is planning long-distance, long-term multidisciplinary research cruises (large-scale research cruises) to be conducted between April, 2016 and March, 2019, using its vessels that will be open to both Japanese and overseas universities or research institutes. No decision has yet been made on the number of cruise plans that can be implemented. To plan these future cruises, we are planning to hold a workshop on the 6th and 7th of Nov., and are calling for researchers to submit pre-proposals (Deadline for submission: Friday, September 19, 2014 (Japan time)). Applicants that have passed the pre-screening will be required to attend the workshop. Detailed information can be found at

C-DEBI Networked Speaker Series #9: Julie Meyer, now online!
For anyone unable to make the live presentation, Dr. Julie Meyer's Networked Speaker Series seminar on "Microbial life in cold, hydrologically active oceanic crustal fluids at North Pond" is now available for viewing online.
Abstract: The cold, basalt-hosted, oceanic crustal aquifer is one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, yet little is known about its indigenous microorganisms. Seawater enters the aquifer through porous, exposed basaltic rocks in the upper layers of young oceanic crust, circulates underneath sedimented seafloor and is later discharged in other regions of exposed basaltic crust. During its residence beneath the ocean floor, seawater undergoes both biotic and abiotic transformations that may impact global biogeochemical cycles. Recently installed subseafloor observatories on the western flank of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge penetrate hundreds of meters into the crust and provide an unprecedented opportunity to investigate microbial life in this understudied realm. I will present our findings from the initial microbiological and geochemical characterization of low-temperature basaltic formation fluids, as the first is a series of related studies documenting the progression of borehole equilibration. Our results reveal an active and diverse bacterial community in the crustal aquifer engaged in both heterotrophy and autotrophy.

EGU General Assembly 2015: Call for Sessions
The call for sessions for the next EGU general Assembly (Vienna, Apr 2015) has just been launched. As a Science Officer for the "BG7. Geomicrobiology and Extreme Environments", Helge Niemann would like to ask you to suggest a session (perhaps about the deep biosphere?). Just go to to make suggestions.

Workshop Report: C-DEBI "Limits to Life" Theme Team Meeting, April 7-8, 2014, Redondo Beach, CA
Current understanding of the microbial community that inhabits deep subsurface environments beneath the seafloor indicates that the majority of the viable population exists in a metabolic state of extremely slow growth or persists in ‘survival’ mode. The slow metabolic rates of these organisms is presumably the consequence of severe limitations in energy or other nutrients, although the factors that ultimately limit the activity of organisms in the deep subsurface are yet to be elucidated. At present, scientists’ ability to interpret the factors that control the distribution of life in the deep subsurface is hampered by a poor understanding of how organisms are able to persist during prolonged exposure to severe restrictions in the supply of energy sources and other nutrients (for a recent review, see Hoehler and Jørgensen, Nature Reviews, 2013). While it would be very useful to have a better understanding of the metabolic activity of organisms functioning under severe resource limitation, it is not clear at the present time what research strategies offer the most promising opportunity to improve knowledge in this area. Laboratory cultures provide one potential avenue to study metabolic adaptations to severe nutrient limitation, but there are clearly significant challenges to simulating realistic low resource conditions in the lab and to monitoring microbial activity under such circumstances. Studies of the in situ metabolic activities of subsurface communities offer another possibility, but this approach has its own set of challenges in data collection and interpretation. The purpose of this workshop was to bring together a small group of interested scientists from both within and outside of the CDEBI community to discuss potential strategies to study microbial metabolism under severe nutrient limitation and to help stimulate more scientific research on this critical but difficult topic. Among the themes discussed at the workshop were:Ÿ
  • To what extent can studies of microbial metabolism under “short-term” nutrient starvation conditions (i.e., several years) provide insights into survival under much more prolonged nutrient limitation in the deep subsurface, lasting many thousands of years or longer?
  • Can existing culture methods be adapted to examine life under long-term survival conditions, or do new approaches need to be developed? What novel techniques are coming on-line that could be employed for this purpose?Ÿ
  • What are the possibilities and limitations for using “omics” data to determine what microbes are doing metabolically in the deep subsurface?

Latest Juan de Fuca Ridge Flank program cruise reports now available
A microbial ecosystem beneath the West Antarctic ice sheet
Liquid water has been known to occur beneath the Antarctic ice sheet for more than 40 years, but only recently have these subglacial aqueous environments been recognized as microbial ecosystems that may influence biogeochemical transformations on a global scale. Here Christner et al present the first geomicrobiological description of water and surficial sediments obtained from direct sampling of a subglacial Antarctic lake. Subglacial Lake Whillans (SLW) lies beneath approximately 800 m of ice on the lower portion of the Whillans Ice Stream (WIS) in West Antarctica and is part of an extensive and evolving subglacial drainage network. The water column of SLW contained metabolically active microorganisms and was derived primarily from glacial ice melt with solute sources from lithogenic weathering and a minor seawater component. Heterotrophic and autotrophic production data together with small subunit ribosomal RNA gene sequencing and biogeochemical data indicate that SLW is a chemosynthetically driven ecosystem inhabited by a diverse assemblage of bacteria and archaea. Our results confirm that aquatic environments beneath the Antarctic ice sheet support viable microbial ecosystems, corroborating previous reports suggesting that they contain globally relevant pools of carbon and microbes that can mobilize elements from the lithosphere and influence Southern Ocean geochemical and biological systems.

Ocean Leadership: Ocean 180 Video Challenge
Submissions for the 2015 Ocean 180 Video Challenge will be accepted from October 1-December 1, 2014.

Ocean Leadership: Share Your Ocean Story with the BBC
Ocean Leadership has built a website to help BBC solicit ideas/content/contacts for their upcoming seven-part series follow-up to Blue Planet entitled Ocean: New Frontiers.

Proposal Calls

Sloan Foundation: Call for Research Fellowship Nominations
The deadline for nominations for the 2015 Sloan Research Fellowships is September 15, 2014.

IODP: Apply to Sail for Expeditions 359, 360 and 361
The deadline to apply is 1 October 2014. A webinar for Expedition 359 Maldives Monsoon will be held Wednesday, September 17th at 3 PM EST, and for Expedition 360 Indian Ridge Moho, Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 3 PM EST. To register, please send an email to with your name and your institution, with Expedition 359 [or 360] Webinar Registration in the subject line. After registering, you will receive an email response with instructions on how to access the webinar.

NSF: Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)
Deadlines: Engineering, Computer and Information Science and Engineering, Materials Research - October 29, 2014; Mathematical Sciences, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy - October 30, 2014; Social Sciences, Psychology, STEM Education and Learning - November 03, 2014Life Sciences, Geosciences - November 04, 2014.

National Academies Research Associateships for Graduate, Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
There are four annual review cycles and the next closes November 1.

IODP-USSSP: Proposals for Pre-Drilling Activities and Workshops
The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) accepts proposals on a rolling basis for pre-drilling activities and semi-annually for workshops, next submission deadline November 15, 2014, related to the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).



Georgia Tech, Biology Department: Postdoc in Marine Microbial Genomics
This position is available immediately, although there is flexibility in the start date.

University of Oldenburg Institute for Chemistry of the Marine Environment: PhD Graduate Student
Review of applications will begin August 1st, 2014; applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Expected appointment is fall 2014. Questions may be directed to Dr. Bert Engelen at

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Associate Director for Microbiology
See the flyer for more details.

University of Minnesota, Department of Earth Sciences: Assistant Professor in Geomicrobiology and Bioremediation  
Review of applications will begin September 8, 2014; applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Expected appointment is Fall 2015.

LUBEM, University of Brest (UBO), France: 12-month Postdoctoral Position
Interested candidates are encouraged to send a curriculum vitae, a cover letter outlining previous experience and support letters from 2 colleagues with first-hand knowledge of their work experience as soon as possible by e-mail to Gaëtan Burgaud ( See the flyer for more information.

Texas A&M, College of Geosciences: 4 Faculty Positions
The search committee will commence review of applications starting 1 May and will continue until the positions are filled.

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
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

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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