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Project Title
Biogeographic Comparison of Subsurface Microbial Habitats Associated with the Serpentinization of Uplifted Mantle Materials
Start DateEnd Date
2011-01-01 2013-12-31
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Ultramafic rocks in the Earth’s mantle represent a tremendous reservoir of carbon and reducing power. Upon tectonic uplift and exposure to fluid flow, serpentinization of these materials generates copious energy, sustains abiogenic synthesis of organic molecules, and provides opportunities for subsurface microbial communities to interact with deep carbon pools. To date, however, the “serpentinite microbiome” is poorly constrained -- almost nothing is known about the microbial diversity endemic to rocks actively undergoing serpentinization. We will compare 16S rRNA pyrotag sequences from subsurface fluids collected from three geographically distinct continental sites of active serpentinization. We also request sequencing of serpentinite drill cores from one of the continental sites for comparison with its companion fluids and with archived samples of seafloor serpentinites collected from the Lost City Hydrothermal Field. In the context of an array of microbiological, geological, geochemical, and isotopic data, this work will greatly expand our knowledge of microbial diversity in both continental and marine subsurface environments and be used to develop tools to quantify the functions, activities, and evolution of microorganisms in serpentinite ecosystems.

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Reporting Year 2014 Click to expand

  • RY2014-1 - submitted on Aug 31, 2014

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    Microbial communities that colonize ultrabasic springs that emanate from serpentinized continental settings are betaproteobacteria (e.g., Hydrogenophaga spp) in subsurface/surface mixing zones and Firmicutes (e.g., Erysipelothrix spp) in hydrogen-rich subsurface fluids (Brazelton et al. 2013).


    W. J. Brazelton, P. L. Morrill, N. Szponar, M. O. Schrenk, Bacterial communities associated with subsurface geochemical processes in continental serpentinite springs. Appl Environ Microbiol 79, 3906-3916 (2013); published online EpubJul (10.1128/AEM.00330-13).

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