3 years ago

The deep, hot biosphere: Twenty-five years of retrospection [Perspectives]

The deep, hot biosphere: Twenty-five years of retrospection [Perspectives]
Daniel R. Colman, Saroj Poudel, Eric S. Boyd, Blake W. Stamps, John R. Spear

Twenty-five years ago this month, Thomas Gold published a seminal manuscript suggesting the presence of a “deep, hot biosphere” in the Earth’s crust. Since this publication, a considerable amount of attention has been given to the study of deep biospheres, their role in geochemical cycles, and their potential to inform on the origin of life and its potential outside of Earth. Overwhelming evidence now supports the presence of a deep biosphere ubiquitously distributed on Earth in both terrestrial and marine settings. Furthermore, it has become apparent that much of this life is dependent on lithogenically sourced high-energy compounds to sustain productivity. A vast diversity of uncultivated microorganisms has been detected in subsurface environments, and we show that H2, CH4, and CO feature prominently in many of their predicted metabolisms. Despite 25 years of intense study, key questions remain on life in the deep subsurface, including whether it is endemic and the extent of its involvement in the anaerobic formation and degradation of hydrocarbons. Emergent data from cultivation and next-generation sequencing approaches continue to provide promising new hints to answer these questions. As Gold suggested, and as has become increasingly evident, to better understand the subsurface is critical to further understanding the Earth, life, the evolution of life, and the potential for life elsewhere. To this end, we suggest the need to develop a robust network of interdisciplinary scientists and accessible field sites for long-term monitoring of the Earth’s subsurface in the form of a deep subsurface microbiome initiative.

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.