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Deep biosphere

Deep biosphere - this new field of subseafloor research has been fundamentally influenced by European scientists over the previous years. Funding agencies and policymakers have responded to these achievements by a number of recent activities. State-of-the-art research perspectives are outlined in the ESF-MB paper “Investigating Life in Extreme Environments” and are currently represented by projects such as:

  • “Census of Marine Life - Making Ocean Life Count”, with 3 key questions (What has lived/lives/will live in the oceans?), the first of which is to be explored using subseafloor records, and the second of which addresses subseafloor marine lifeforms (i.e. the deep biosphere)
  • the EC-funded CAREX project (concerning life in extreme environments)
  • the EuroBioForum (Strasbourg 2007) and BIOPROSP 2009 meetings
  • IGBP (and PAGES in there, see also Work Package [WP] 6 below)
  • the H2DEEP project on ultraslow spreading ridges and hydrogen-generating processes including the deep biosphere (within the ESF-EuroMARC program)
  • the global Deep-Biosphere research coordination network, with many European experts included, which aims at a “DEBI” (Dark Energy Biosphere Institute) for research and education in this field
  • SubSurface Life Task Force in IODP (see workshop report in Appendix 5)
  • the “Deep Bug” project within the OMARC EC-FP6 initiative (see also Appendix 3).
  • HYACINTH EU Framework Five Project on pressure sampling ocean sediments for gas hydrates and deep biosphere prokaryotes.
  • outreach and young researcher activities such as the ECORD summer school: "The Deep Subseafloor Biosphere", Bremen 2008.


Continuing such high impact initiatives will highlight the key role of European researchers in that field, as well as the fact that the deep biosphere is indeed a major new frontier for biological exploration of planet Earth.