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C-DEBI Newsletter – July 1, 2014
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Congratulations to the proposals selected for funding in our Spring 2014 call for research and education grants and fellowships. Stay tuned for their exciting work!

Graduate Fellowship: Alexander Michaud, Montana State (Advisor John Priscu). Microbial carbon cycling beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Graduate Fellowship: Leah Brandt, Penn State (Advisor Chris House). An in-depth analysis of the subvent biosphere within the Okinawa backarc basin Iheya North hydrothermal field

Graduate Fellowship: Cara Magnabosco, Princeton (Advisor Tullis Onstott). Analytical tools for cross metagenome comparisons

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Roland Hatzenpichler, CalTech (Advisor Victoria Orphan). Activity-based cell-sorting and enrichment of newly synthesized proteins via amino acid tagging and click chemistry

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Rosa Leon Zayas, U Delaware (Advisor Jen Biddle). Metagenomic and metatranscriptomic analysis of the Tonga Trench: a comparative study of microbial diversity and metabolic potential from surface waters to below seafloor

Postdoctoral Fellowship: Donato Giovannelli, Rutgers (Advisor Costa Vetriani). Alternative carbon fixation strategies in the model organism Thermovibrio ammonificans: a model system to study energy limitation in the deep biosphere

Research Grant: Frank Robb, U Maryland. Carbon monoxide as a key metabolite in carbon and hydrogen flux in the marine subsurface

Research Grant: Billy Brazelton, U Utah. Investigation of genetic exchange within and between rock-hosted biofilms fueled by serpentinization

Research Grant: Bill Orsi, WHOI. Microbial activity in oxygenated subseafloor sediment

Education Grant:  Sharon Cooper, Consortium for Ocean Leadership.  Where the Wild Microbes Are: an Interactive eBook for Elementary Age Children

Education Grant: Peter Tuddenham, Tina Bishop, College of Exploration; Lynn Whitley, USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies; Pat Harcourt.  Collaborative Development of C-DEBI Resources for Community Colleges
 

Meetings, Workshops and Activities

AGU: Submit your abstracts to deep biosphere-related Sessions, due August 8!
 
Conveners: Jennifer Biddle and Beth Orcutt
Description: Far removed from the surface world, a significant number of Earth’s microbes live in the subsurface. This environment may have limited energy and biomass may be preserved for geologic time periods. Yet, evidence of active biogeochemical cycles can be seen in the environment. So are these microbes in a blaze of glory, or just living on a prayer? This session will cover all aspects of marine and terrestrial subsurface microbial studies, from cultivation to genomics, thermodynamic modeling to in-situ investigations, preserved biomarker to enzymatic activity studies. Microbes in the subsurface are wanted, dead or alive.
 
Conveners: Jennifer Glass, Joel Kostka, Joe Montoya
Description: Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with rising atmospheric concentrations. The methane and nitrogen cycles are connected through both assimilatory and dissimilatory pathways. Many methanogens and methanotrophs are diazotrophs, aerobic methanotrophs can also perform nitrification and denitrification, and recent evidence suggests that nitrate and nitrite can serve as alternative electron acceptors for anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). However, the rates, distribution and pathways of nitrogen cycling in diverse methane-rich ecosystems remain a subject of active research. We invite submissions that couple methane and nitrogen cycles using geochemical, isotopic and/or molecular approaches in soil, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Target studies include but are not limited to explorations of mechanisms and environmental controls on nitrate/nitrite-AOM and methane-stimulated diazotrophy, such as O2, pH, temperature, phosphorus and trace metal availability.
 
Conveners: Lindsay Hays, Michael New
Description: The three established major requirements of life are 1) water, 2) the crucial elements of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur (CHNOPS), and 3) a source of energy. Water and CHNOPS are chemical constraints on life, and their relative concentrations can be measured in environments on the Earth, and increasingly in bodies throughout the solar system. However, the amount of energy present for maintenance, growth and reproduction – the thermodynamic constraint on life – is more complex, and often remains unconsidered in studies of habitability. This session will focus on exploring the thermodynamic constraints on microbial growth, and explore whether there are novel constraints that remain unexplored. Studies that focus on measuring and/or modeling living systems or looking at environmental energy fluxes are encouraged to apply. This session should encourage dialogue among experts in biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, evolutionary biology, planetary habitability, and thermodynamics and energy flows in natural systems.
 
Conveners: Brandon Briggs and Eric Boyd
Description: Despite decades of study, extreme environments host a considerable number of uncultured organisms with as yet to be defined biogeochemical roles, biotechnological applications, and astrobiological implications.  In this session we invite presentations that explore all aspects of extremophiles, including but not limited to molecular, genomic, biogeography, biogeochemistry, and novel methods to identify cryptic metabolisms. Emphasis will be placed on presentations that integrate multiple methods (i.e. molecular and geochemical analysis) to better understand biogeochemical cycling in extreme environments.
 
Conveners: Mark Lever, Aude Picard, Clair Cousins
Description: A detailed understanding of the carbon cycle in subsurface environments is essential to understanding atmospheric, hydrospheric, and lithospheric chemistry over time, on Earth and beyond. Yet, despite recent advances through research on subsurface sediments, crustal environments, aquifers, and subsurface-derived fluid samples, fundamental questions regarding subsurface carbon flux and speciation remain unanswered. This interdisciplinary session aims to bring together scientists with a shared interest in understanding the subsurface carbon cycle, from the molecular to the planetary scale. Themes may include, but are not restricted to, (1) field and laboratory investigations on the biological and abiotic synthesis, transformation, and movement of carbon compounds, (2) the nature and extent of biotic and abiotic reaction rates, (3) environmental limits of deep life (biotic fringe), (4) diversity of deep life as it relates to the distribution of carbon compounds, (5) potential for active extraterrestrial carbon cycling, or (6) models that integrate aspects of the above.
 
Conveners: Jeff Marlow, Shawn McGlynn
Description: As the characterization of low-energy environments continually pushes the limits of microbiological possibility, the metabolic activity of microbial constituents - not their mere presence - has emerged as the driving question of biogeochemical investigation.  But the convincing measurement of such activity remains elusive, particularly at the slow growth rates associated with life's energetic limits. This session will examine the latest advances in cultivation-independent methods for the detection of catabolic and/or anabolic activity, the determination of "maintenance" energy, and the quantification of metabolic rates, among other topics.  We also welcome astrobiology-oriented contributions that seek to apply the concepts of metabolic measurement and energetics principles to the search for life beyond Earth, through both "direct" rover-mediated study and "remote" exoplanet atmospheric spectroscopy.  Techniques measuring metabolic rate will play an increasingly important role in expanding and characterizing the known biosphere within and beyond Earth.
 
Conveners: Scott Wankel, Colleen Hansel
Description: The interconnectedness of elemental cycling is increasingly realized as an exceedingly diverse, and often cryptic, network of redox reactions. Key insights into the functioning and importance of these linkages often come through scrutiny of the reactive intermediate species involved. Despite commonly low concentrations, as the ‘chemical crossroads’ of many redox reactions, these compounds can significantly influence elemental cycling as well as serve as important indicators/integrators of chemical pathways and mechanisms. This session welcomes both field and experimental studies that shed light on cryptic cycling pathways of major elements; for example intermediates of nitrogen/sulfur cycling, unstable aqueous metal ions, short-lived radical species or transient mineral phases such as hydrous oxides, elemental sulfur and green rust. Topics might include advances in monitoring the production/decay of reactive intermediates, the chemical and microbiological processes responsible for their formation, and the broad geochemical relevance and ecological consequence of these species in the environment.


Outreach
JOIDES Resolution: Onboard Education Officer/Teacher at Sea
Want to sail on the JR?  The application period for Education Officers on board the JOIDES Resolution for two of our 2015 expeditions is open now! We are now accepting applications from U.S. educators for the following expeditions: Expedition 353: Indian Monsoon Rainfall: 29 November 2014 - 19 January 2015, and Expedition 354: Bengal Fan: 29 January - 31 March, 2015. JOIDES Resolution Education Officers have the opportunity to learn shipboard science alongside the expedition’s science party and translate their learning experiences for students, families and the general public through creation of blogs, videos, social networking sites, live video events from the ship and development of classroom resources. All expenses for U.S. Education Officers for travel to and from the ports of call, and a stipend, are paid by IODP Education. Education Officers are selected through a competitive application and interview process. Successful applicants will also be flown to a 3-day group training session prior to their expedition. DEADLINE to apply: July 23, 2014.
The strange organisms that eke out a living deep beneath our feet are finally being revealed by genetics. Many of them are small, co-dependent and fuelled by mysterious sources of energy. We know that billions of microorganisms inhabit the earth, the underground aquifers that supply our drinking water, and even the deep nether regions of Earth's crust, far beneath the seabed. But we know nothing about what most of these microbes are and how they live. Some of them, in the so-called "dark energy biosphere", are the deepest living organisms, somehow surviving hundreds of metres underground, far from the sun's life-giving light.

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

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

Employment

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Associate Director for Microbiology
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) seeks a senior scientist to lead a scientific research organization of approximately 20 staff members (comprising senior research project leaders, bench scientists and postdoctoral research associates) and to actively participate in the development and implementation of fundamental science research programs. Microbiology is a discipline that is central to the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Programs in Bioenergy and Environmental Science. It is an integral component of the Biological Sciences Division at PNNL and its scientists actively interact with other research groups at PNNL in areas of Geochemistry, Computational Biology, Integrative Omics (proteomics and metabolomics), and Climate & Earth Systems Science. Furthermore, PNNL is planning and executing strategic internal investments in Biological Imaging, Quantitative Biology, and other areas of biology to strengthen and grow biological science at the laboratory. These activities will provide the successful candidate opportunities to shape the future directions of the Microbiology Group. See the flyer for more details.

University of Minnesota, Department of Earth Sciences: Assistant Professor in Geomicrobiology and Bioremediation  
The Department of Earth Sciences and The BioTechnology Institute (BTI) at the University of Minnesota seek applications for a tenure-track faculty position in the area of Geomicrobiology and Bioremediation. We are interested in a broad range of topics in geomicrobiology, microbiology, biogeochemistry, or related fields, with application in areas such as acid mine drainage bioremediation, dynamics of sulfate and nitrate removal, microbial bioremediation, biomining, and/or groundwater bioremediation. The appointment will be a 9 month (B-Term), tenure-track position at the assistant or associate professor level with responsibilities in research, teaching, and service. Review of applications will begin September 8, 2014; applications will continue to be accepted until the position is filled. Expected appointment is Fall 2015. Questions may be directed to Prof. Chris Paola at cpaola@umn.edu.

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 (gaetan.burgaud@univ-brest.fr). 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!
 
Best, 
 
Matt
 
-- 
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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