The deep shale biosphere stores an abundance of methane and other oil hydrocarbons that provide carbon and energy resources for microorganisms, both within the shale and along its bounding formations. Extreme conditions encountered within these rocks include the absence of light for photosynthesis, sub-micron pore-spaces, elevated temperatures, high pressures, and brine fluid chemistry. Each of these environmental factors may strongly influence the origin, adaptation and function of the microbial population.
Sharma will receive
"Understanding the diversity and metabolic potential of microorganisms residing in these rocks and fluids is extremely important because it has implications for current and past life on our planet in addition to human-induced changes that might occur to this rare ecosystem" Mouser said. "The information we plan to gather will help us to infer the origin of detected microbes with respect to shale geologic history, explore how microorganisms have adapted to the current deep biosphere environment, and investigate the unique strategies microbes use to sequester nutrient resources given extreme environmental conditions."
Mouser and Sharma found evidence of the existence of microbial activity through previous independent work and decided to work together discovering more about life under Appalachia's surface.
"It would be the first study of its kind--that's what we're excited about," Sharma said.
The Marcellus and
The project is slated to begin in
This research award is the first activity to occur under the Ohio State-WVU partnership for shale energy research, entered into in
Research findings will be distributed through a variety of educational activities to be developed under the partnership. Project investigators plan to make their results available to industry, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and other stakeholders in the Appalachian region through regular workshops and meetings led by
Additional project objectives include sharing results with the public through outreach activities at local schools, libraries, museums and other public venues, in an attempt to educate the public on what exists in the deep subsurface; learn about the characteristics and preferences of these micro-organisms; match microbes with their deep-sea cousins; and observe what this research exposes about community structure before and after drilling.
TNS 30TagarumaMar-131031-4533263 30TagarumaMar
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