C-DEBI Newsletter – May 15, 2014
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Dear C-DEBI,

Now posted are the report and resources from the last (and final) DEBI RCN workshop on Bioenergetics and Subsurface Metabolisms held last month at USC. The workshop was hosted by Jan Amend and Doug LaRowe and attended by 36 invited graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and research scientist and 6 remote participants via videoconference. Find the 10 plenary presentations given in 4 basic thematic areas (microbial metabolism in marine sediments, novel experimental approaches, microorganisms in extreme environments, and novel analytical approaches) and more online.

C-DEBI Renewal Proposal: We are hard at work preparing the NSF proposal for C-DEBI Phase 2, to be submitted August 1. The “writing team” consists of Jan Amend, Steve Finkel, John Heidelberg (all USC), Julie Huber (MBL), Steve D’Hondt (URI), Andy Fisher (UCSC), Geoff Wheat (Ole Miss), Beth Orcutt (Bigelow), Victoria Orphan (Caltech), and Alfred Spormann (Stanford).

Meetings, Workshops and Activities

C-DEBI: Networked Speaker Series Seminar: Luke McKay, May 21, 2014 from 12:00-12:45pm PT, Online!
The Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) is a “networked” Science and Technology Center (STC), gathering expertise, ideas, and participation from institutions across the U.S. and around the world. C-DEBI runs the Networked Speaker Series as one means to enhance communication and the exchange of ideas via short (30 minute) presentations with time for questions and discussion. The series is presented live online for remote participants (login instructions will be distributed before the talk), and is recorded and available on the website for those unable to attend the live broadcasts. C-DEBI's next Networked Seminar Speaker is Luke McKay from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Department of Marine Sciences:

Approaching the high temperature boundary for life in the hydrothermally altered sediments of Guaymas Basin
My research focuses on microbial community structure in the hydrothermally-altered sediments of Guaymas Basin at 2000m water depth in the Sea of Cortez. The thermal range of shallow Guaymas sediments is extreme; on one occasion temperatures increased from 3°C at the sediment-water interface to 200°C in just 45cm. Beyond 80°C and 100°C the isotopic signatures of the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) and organic matter remineralization (OMR) could not be traced and may represent upper thermal constraints for these microbial processes. Temperature logging probes revealed that the shallowest sediments experienced extreme thermal fluctuations, which sometimes varied by 25°C in as little as a day.  Viable microbial life, as indicated by reverse-transcribed 16S rRNA, was detected in sediments with an eight day thermal range of 77°C to 100°C.  454-pyrosequencing recovery of reverse-transcribed 16S rRNA from cool and hot layers of high temperature cores revealed that putative methane cycling archaea and sulfur cycling bacteria were dominant members of the microbial community.  In particular, ANME archaea were very common but distinct cores yielded diverse sequence assemblages, including ANME-1 Guaymas, ANME-2c, and ANME-2d/GoM Arc-1/Methanoperedenaceae. Dominant bacterial groups were Thermodesulfobacteria within the family Thermodesulfobacteriaceae, Epsilonproteobacteria within the family Helicobacteriaceae, and close relatives of the deltaproteobacterium Desulfocapsa exigens. Co-occurrence of OTUs across the four hottest sediment layers suggests that ANME-1 Guaymas and an uncultured representative of a deeply branching MCG subgroup are the most probable archaeal hyperthermophiles, and members of the Thermodesulfobacteriaceae family are likely bacterial hyperthermophiles.

ISSM 2014: Student Volunteers Needed
Students, are you interested in volunteering at the Ninth International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM 2014) in exchange for reducing your conference costs? The conference organizers are seeking student volunteers to assist at the conference. The conference, to be held October 5-10, 2014, at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California, will showcase the latest developments and research in the expanding field of subsurface microbiology. Volunteer positions may include serving as a room monitor, working at the registration desk, and providing general support throughout the event. Applicants must currently be enrolled full-time as a graduate or undergraduate student. Volunteers would be requested to commit to at least 4 to 8 hours of volunteer assistance each day of the conference. We will work with your schedule so that you can attend the sessions you are most interested in. The volunteer application deadline is May 15, 2014. To learn more about the volunteer details, please download the Student Volunteer Application at

Ocean Leadership/IODP: Seeking new Members for USAC, JOIDES Resolution Facility Board, Science Evaluation Panel
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, in association with the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), is seeking new U.S.-based members for the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC), the JOIDES Resolution Facility Board, and the Science Evaluation Panel. New members will serve three-year terms beginning in October 2014. Scientists interested in volunteering for these opportunities should send a cover letter and a two-page CV to by June 15, 2014. Letters should clearly indicate your primary field of expertise, briefly document any previous committee experience, describe your interests in the scientific ocean drilling programs, and identify your preferred panel or committee assignment. We strongly encourage the involvement of early career scientists, as well as those with more experience. For more information, please visit:

Hot Off the Press: The Potential for Biologically Catalyzed Anaerobic Methane Oxidation on Ancient Mars (C-DEBI Contribution 174) in Astrobiology
This study by Marlow et al. examines the potential for the biologically mediated anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) coupled to sulfate reduction on ancient Mars. Seven distinct fluids representative of putative martian groundwater were used to calculate Gibbs energy values in the presence of dissolved methane under a range of atmospheric CO2 partial pressures. In all scenarios, AOM is exergonic, ranging from −31 to −135 kJ/mol CH4. A reaction transport model was constructed to examine how environmentally relevant parameters such as advection velocity, reactant concentrations, and biomass production rate affect the spatial and temporal dependences of AOM reaction rates. Two geologically supported models for ancient martian AOM are presented: a sulfate-rich groundwater with methane produced from serpentinization by-products, and acid-sulfate fluids with methane from basalt alteration. The simulations presented in this study indicate that AOM could have been a feasible metabolism on ancient Mars, and fossil or isotopic evidence of this metabolic pathway may persist beneath the surface and in surface exposures of eroded ancient terrains.

Sulfur Oxidation Genes in Diverse Deep-Sea Viruses
Viruses are the most abundant biological entities in the oceans and a pervasive cause of mortality of microorganisms that drive biogeochemical cycles. Although the ecological and evolutionary effects of viruses on marine phototrophs are well recognized, little is known about their impact on ubiquitous marine lithotrophs. Here, Anantharaman et al. report 18 genome sequences of double-stranded DNA viruses that putatively infect widespread sulfur-oxidizing bacteria. Fifteen of these viral genomes contain auxiliary metabolic genes for the α and γ subunits of reverse dissimilatory sulfite reductase (rdsr). This enzyme oxidizes elemental sulfur, which is abundant in the hydrothermal plumes studied here. Our findings implicate viruses as a key agent in the sulfur cycle and as a reservoir of genetic diversity for bacterial enzymes that underpin chemosynthesis in the deep oceans.

Ocean Leadership: Apply to Host Deep Biosphere IODP Distinguished Lecturer Beth Orcutt
C-DEBI researcher and Activity Theme Team Leader Dr. Beth Orcutt (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences) is one of the Ocean Leadership Distinguished Lecturers touring the country during the 2014-2015 academic year. Apply now to host her at your institution and learn about “Buried Alive: Life Beneath the Seafloor.”  The Consortium for Ocean Leadership’s U.S. Science Support Program offers the Distinguished Lecturer Series to bring the exciting scientific results and discoveries of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program to academic research institutions, museums, and aquaria. Applications are due June 1, 2014.

Ocean Leadership: Nominate a Distinguished Lecturer!
The Consortium for Ocean Leadership is seeking dynamic speakers to convey the excitement of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program to geoscience communities across the United States. Through the Distinguished Lecturer Series, Ocean Leadership has brought over 750 presentations to academic institutions and other organizations. Your help is needed to identify scientists interested in continuing this important program during the 2015-2016 academic year. Lectures focus on the discoveries and results made through the ocean drilling programs and are primarily aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, museums, and science departments.  If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Distinguished Lecturer, email their name, institution, and potential lecture topic to Charna Meth ( by the nomination deadline of June 15, 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

L'Oreal For Women in Science: Five Postdoctoral Grants
Applications are due on Monday, May 19, 2014.

IODP: Deadline Extended: Apply to Sail on Indonesian Throughflow
The deadline to apply to sail on International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 356 Indonesian Throughflow aboard the JOIDES Resolution had been extended to June 2, 2014. 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:

NSF: Critical Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science & Engineering (BIGDATA) Program Solicitation
Full Proposal Deadline: June 9, 2014.

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).


LUBEM, University of Brest (UBO), France: 12-month Postdoctoral Position
The European project MaCuMBA ("Marine Microorganisms: Cultivation Methods for Improving their Biotechnological Applications" – KBBE.2012.3.2-02) aims at improving the isolation rate and growth efficiency of marine microorganisms from conventional and extreme habitats, by applying innovative methods and the use of automated high throughput procedures. The approaches include the co-cultivation of interdependent microorganisms, as well as gradient cultures and other methods mimicking the natural environment as well as the exploitation of cell-to-cell communication. It also plans to screen isolated microorganisms as well as their genomes for a wide range of bioactive products and other properties of biotechnological interest, such as genetic transformability. The UBO/LUBEM (Partner 3 of the MaCuMBA European project) is involved in the genome sequencing of deep-sea fungal strains and the analysis of genomes to provide a list of interesting genes of potential biotechnological interest. Two recently isolated fungal strains potentially useful for biotechnological applications have been chosen for genome sequencing and analysis. Candidate – Should have a PhD, have experience in Illumina and/or pyrosequencing technique and (meta)genomic/bioinformatics analyses. A previous experience with eukaryotic genome sequencing and bioinformatics analyses would be greatly appreciated. Experience in genomes analysis to search for genes of potential biotechnological interest would also be appreciated. 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.

Montana State University, Bozeman: Postdoctoral Researcher in Geomicrobiology
Screening of applications will begin on April 16, 2014 and will continue to be accepted until an adequate candidate pool has been established.

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.

ABYSS: PhD and Post-Doctoral fellowships in Geodynamics, Mineralogy, Hydrodynamics, Thermodynamics and (Bio-)Geochemistry
We are now recruiting 10 PhDs and 1 post-doctoral fellow, including PhD position ESR11 in geobiology, "The ocean crust as microbial incubator." The deadline for application is June 1, 2014.
UNC-CH: Tenure-Track Assistant/Associate Professor in Marine Environmental Genomics or Particle Dynamics
To apply for the position, please follow this link: Applications will be reviewed starting January 15, 2014

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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