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Geomicrobiology

GMB

Photo captions: (left) Using the multi-corer from aboard the School’s Research Vessel Guiding Light to sample sediments from the Severn Estuary; (center) night-time sampling deep Baltic Sea sediments IODP Expedition 347 (12 September to 1 November 2013); (right) Bacterial isolates from Eastern Mediterranean sapropels and deep hemipelagic sediments isolated on anoxic media targeting sulphate-reducing bacteria: (a) Alteromonas sp. S8FS1 isolated with short-chain fatty acids; (b) Halomonas sp. S7A isolated with lactate; (c) Bacillus sp. S6BB isolated with thiosulphate and acetate; (d) Micrococcus sp. Z1A isolated with thiosulphate and acetate; (e) Acinetobacter sp. Z7TS1 isolated with thiosulphate and acetate; (f) Clostridium sp. SO1 isolated with lactate.

Our research investigates environmental microbial (prokaryotic) activities particularly in near and subsurface sediments. These two environments have vastly different rates of microbial activities, with rapid recycling of organic matter and nutrients in surface sediments to very slow “geological’ activities (100- 1000’s years), with extraordinary low energy flux, in deep sediments. However, both of these activities exert control on global biogeochemical cycles and Earth’s chemical steady state, such as nutrient release for continued photosynthesis and organic matter burial which results in excess oxygen in the atmosphere. In addition, organic matter preservation and alteration provide the feedstock for oil and gas formation, and especially as temperatures increase, “dark energy” for sedimentary bacterial processes to kilometre depths.  This biosphere:geosphere interaction continues into very hot deposits (>100°C) and include processes previously thought to be purely thermogenic (e.g. oil and gas formation). Many microbes in marine sediments are only known from their DNA sequences and a focus of our research is to discover their metabolism and environmental function.

For more information about group members, including recent publications, please visit the individual staff pages (scroll down):

Prof R John Parkes, FRS (**theme leader, group leader)
Research interests in geomicrobiology; biogeochemistry; and the deep biosphere, including biosphere:geosphere interactions, microbial processes in sediments, gas hydrate deposits, ice sheets and glaciers, bacteria and fossilization, microbe:mineral interactions, bacterial biomarkers, and bacterial processes under low and high temperature and elevated pressure.

Dr Rupert Perkins
Research interests in photophysiology of aquatic primary producers, biomediation of coastal sediment dynamics, and chlorophyll fluorescence technology.

Dr Henrik Sass
Research interests in biogeochemistry, microbial physiology and diversity, ecology, and the deep biosphere.