By Katrina Jane Edwards,
Professor of Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies
University of Southern California
Abstract: Over the past two decades, there has been an increasing awareness within the geological, microbiological, and oceanographic communities of the potentially vast microbial biosphere that is harbored beneath the surface of the Earth. With this awareness has come a mounting effort to study this potential biome – to better quantify biomass abundance, activity, and biogeochemical activity. In the Earth system, the largest deep subsurface biome is also the least accessible – the deep ocean subsurface biosphere. The oceanic deep biosphere also has greatest potential for influencing global scale biogeochemical processes –the carbon and energy cycles for example, and other elemental cycles. To address these topics and mount interdisciplinary efforts to study the deep subsurface marine biosphere, we have recently formed a center in support integrative, collaborative investigations. The national science foundation Center for Dark Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), has been initiated for the explicit purpose of resolving the extent, function, dynamics and implications of the subseafloor biosphere. This talk will discuss C-DEBI science, with focus on some of the opportunities and challenges in the study of deep life in the ocean, and the role that C-DEBI will play in meeting them.
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