Deep subsurface methane hydrate-bearing sediments contain microbial communities that are distinct from shallow marine sediments and hydrate-free environments. DNA evidence suggests that novel bacterial phyla (e.g. Atribacteria) are highly enriched in methane hydrate-bearing sediments. Recent genome assemblies by the Glass group at Georgia Tech are providing insights into the metabolic potential of samples drilled from gas hydrate stability zone 70 mbsf below Hydrate Ridge (IODP Leg 204). However, the “gold standard” of obtaining a pure microbial culture for microbiological experiments has remained elusive due to the scarcity of never-depressurized cores samples and high-pressure cultivation apparatus.
The goal of this project is to characterize the composition and metabolic potential of microbial communities in hydrate-bearing pressure cores, and to cultivate and isolate microbes at high pressure from hydrate deposits.