Friday, October 29, 2021 at 10:30am CST
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Speaker: Rick Colwell, Professor, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
Host: Kehua You
Title: Deep Life: What’s Up Down There?
Abstract: Between Earth’s surface and the uninhabitable deep part of the planet, marine and terrestrial subsurface rocks and sediments comprise a vast habitat for life. The deep biosphere hosts an estimated 7×1029 microbial cells, and roughly 15% of the planet’s biomass, essentially all of which are bacteria and archaea. Because the deep Earth is so remote and survival there so challenging, we are still learning about subsurface microbes, their role in global biogeochemical cycles, as well as their community structure, metabolic potential, diversity, and distribution. This presentation will highlight methods used to sample these environments for life, the basic features of life underground, including what we know of the numbers and distribution of these cells, their activities, their functional capabilities, and the primary geological processes that control their survival. Using examples from recent research the discussion will also address some of the remaining challenges associated with studying life in the subsurface.