Project Details


Follow the Elements Follow the Elements Follow the Elements- UCR sub Far-Deep Follow the Elements- DDF Subs and Troxell Equipment Follow the Elements-Summer of Innovation DDF:Follow the Elements: Following a novel Earth biota:microbial succession and nutrient use on floating pumice spherules following the Puyehue... The Puyehue-Cordn Caulle volcanic eruption on 4 June 2011 (and ongoing) deposited large amounts of ash and pumice in the area. Especially notable for astrobiology is the development of extensive islands of floating pumice spherules in regional lakes, including Lake Nahuel Haupi, the regions largest. These spherules, initially sterile, will be colonized by microbes over time but ecological succession on such novel substrates has never been described. We will characterize the development of these communities using state-of-the-art DNA sequencing techniques (Ion Torrent) and use modern isotope techniques to study how they obtain nutrient elements (N, P). The project will provide several benefits. It will be the first to document microbial composition and nutrient uptake for these novel lacustrine pumice islands. Such studies are of high astrobiological relevance, as microbial succession on the initially sterile pumice will shed light on similar scenarios during Earths history, such as colonization of land or dynamics following planetary impacts. We will also learn about the suitability of such postvolcanic environments to support life, helping inform interpretation if such habitats are ever identified beyond Earth. Our project will also provide an exciting opportunity for young scientists from our team. Finally, it will help establish a new collaboration in astrobiology with Argentina, a country without a broad astrobiology research community but which offers numerous opportunities. Thus, we address two core NASA goals: to advance the frontiers of knowledge of our planet and our universe and to prepare the next generation of scientists to do likewise.
Effective start/end date2/1/091/31/15


  • NASA: Ames Research Center: $7,287,986.00


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