Navigation Links
USC awarded $3.9M for lab under the sea

Think of bacteria eating rock. Now think of bacteria eating rock below the ocean floor. How about experimenting on bacteria in that rock 15,000 feet underwater"

With a $3.9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, USC researcher Katrina Edwards will lead a first-of-its-kind drilling expedition to study subseafloor life.

Recently discovered subseafloor microbes, which live on chemical reactions with rock and water, may affect ocean chemistry, the marine food web and global climate.

Thats because the entire volume of Earths oceans appears to circulate through the seabed every 200,000 years lightning fast, by geologic standards.

The ocean crust is more like fractured hard sponge cake than what we think of as truly solid, Edwards explained.

Yet scientists know little about this deep biosphere, so Edwards and more than 30 colleagues have pushed for an observatory and at least a decade of research, which the Moore Foundation grant helps make possible.

Dr. Edwards is pursuing one of the most fascinating problems in science, said David Kingsbury, chief program officer of science at the Moore Foundation, based in San Francisco.

With the recognition that the subseafloor ocean may teem with microbial life comes new, fundamental questions about the evolution and distribution of life and the operation of the carbon cycle, he added.

The grant will fund complex engineering and instrumentation needed for long-term experiments at and below the seafloor. The drilling will occur under the auspices of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, an international marine research program funded by the National Science Foundation and Asian government agencies. Shallow drilling is expected to begin in 2009, and deeper drilling in 2010.

The undertaking will further bridge the earth and life sciences, a key goal in the emerging field of geobiology, described by Edwards as the co-evolution of Earth and life.

The deep biosphere is uniquely suited for a geobiological approach, Edwards said, since a proper understanding requires genomics, analysis of microbe-rock chemical interactions and a timescale in the millions of years.

Edwards and colleagues will drill at a site near Bermuda through sediments that have accumulated over 7 million years. In addition, they will drill into the basalt below and then conduct long-term experiments in both rock types.

The observatory is expected to uncover new details about the microbes details impossible to obtain using only rock samples, lab cultures and other traditional methods.

In addition, the unique site with its deep bed of sediments enclosed by basalt will allow researchers to understand where the bacteria came from.

The bacteria could have swum up into the sediments from below or they could have floated down from above, Edwards explained.

Genetic and metabolic pathway data will help the scientists understand how bacteria at different depths in the sediment are related to each other and to other known species.

This in turn could offer clues about how the bacteria evolved, perhaps shedding light on the origin of life.

Still, the scientists are unsure of what they will ultimately discover.

No one has ever done a project like this before, so we really dont know, Edwards said.


Contact: Terah DeJong
University of Southern California

Related biology news :

1. Springer author Carlos M. Duarte awarded Spanish science prize
2. 2008 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation awarded to Dr. Marie-Joëlle Rochet from IFREMER
3. 2008 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation awarded to Fan Meng; first Chinese fellow
4. 2008 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation awarded to Dr. Ussif Rashid Sumaila
5. Dr. Andrew Constable awarded 2008 Pew Fellowship in marine conservation
6. 2008 Pew Fellowship in marine conservation awarded to UM Rosenstiels Dr. Andrew Baker
7. UA-led research team awarded $50 million to solve plant biologys grand challenge questions
8. Research pioneer in the developmental origins of psychiatric illness is awarded the Sackler prize
9. $13 million federal grant for research into vascular disease awarded to Weill Cornell
10. 2 federal public health grants awarded to Weill Cornell Medical College
11. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratorys lung cancer research program awarded $100,000 grant
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/12/2015)... , Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has ... of MIT and Harvard for use of its ... information management tools. The partnership will support the ... biological and chemical research information internally and with ... be used for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... ) ... "Global Law Enforcement Biometrics Market 2015-2019" ... ) has announced the addition of ... 2015-2019" report to their offering. ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy ... and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," ... Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises ... to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Cepheid (NASDAQ: CPHD ) today announced that ... and invited investors to participate via webcast. ... 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time --> ... 1, 2015 at 11.00 a.m. Eastern Time --> ... NY      Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11.00 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ: ... on behalf of the Toronto Stock Exchange, confirms that ... are no corporate developments that would cause the recent ... --> --> About Aeterna Zentaris Inc. ... --> Aeterna Zentaris is a specialty biopharmaceutical ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th ... NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... 24, 2015 , ... In harsh industrial processes, the safety ... sensors can represent a weak spot where leaking process media is a possible ... housings , which are designed to tolerate extreme process conditions. They combine rugged ...
Breaking Biology Technology: