The marine subsurface biosphere
Jan Amend is the director of the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), an NSF-funded Science and Technology Center. This Center is built on compelling evidence that the microbial abundance in subseafloor sediments equals that in the overlying ocean. C-DEBI is a multi-institutional research network that seeks to develop an integrated understanding of microbial subseafloor life at the molecular, cellular, and ecosystem scales. The approaches balance field exploration and discovery with laboratory investigations, modern analytics, and numerical modeling.
Current projects are also associated with the Integrated Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). IODP's drill-ship, Joides Resolution, sails around the globe and allows for access to deep (100s of meters below the seafloor) sediments. The Amend Lab is actively working with multiple deep subsurface samples from Guaymas Basin to determine the impact of thermal alteration on microbial community structure and metabolic diversity. Guaymas is a young rifting margin with thick sediment cover that is thermally altered by magmatic sill emplacements.
The Amend lab is involved in projects to a) map the geochemical energy sources in subseafloor ecosystems at a range of spatial scales, b) develop and test coupled geochemical-microbial models of subseafloor ecosystems, c) mine metagenomic data from subsurface environments, d) determine metabolic activity of subseafloor microbial communities, e) isolate and characterize novel bacteria and archaea from diverse subseafloor habitats, and f) examine fundamental physiology of subseafloor microbes under conditions of low growth rates and low energy flux.