Diverse and mostly uncharacterised microorganisms live in the deep biosphere, potentially playing a role in mediating global biogeochemical processes.
The research conducted by Hayley Manners and colleagues at Plymouth University and the University of Southampton is investigating whether evidence of microorganisms colonising volcanic deposits in the deep biosphere can be detected using their organic remains. As part of this work Hayley participated in an International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP) Expedition (Exp370 – T-Limit of the Deep Biosphere) last September, which aimed to investigate the temperature limit to life in the deep biosphere off Cape Muroto, Japan.
Understanding the origin, evolution and significance of
this realm is important if we want to determine the role
of the deep biosphere in the Earth system and how
microorganisms thrive in such extreme environments,
which in turn may provide insight into life elsewhere in
the solar system.