The continental deep subsurface is likely the largest reservoir of biofilm-based microbial biomass on Earth, but the role of mineral selectivity in regulating its distribution and diversity is unclear. Minerals can produce hotspots for …
Biofilms are thin, slimy films of microbes like bacteria and archaea that adhere to fracture surfaces at DeMMO. Living in a biofilm has lots of potential advantages in the deep subsurface, such as making it easier to access nutrients, exchange DNA with other microbes nearby, or getting closer to a tasty mineral in the rock.
Lipids are a major focus for biomarker detection on other planets because they are the dominant component of microbial cell membranes and they persist in the terrestrial rock record over billion-year timescales.
We culture microbes collected from DeMMO under controlled laboratory conditions. Through our culture experiments, we are able to characterize metabolic function in DeMMO communities. We are working to isolate important members of the communities so that we can describe their specific roles in detail.