In 2008, I used to be investigating the methane effervescent up on the seashores and in shallow waters of Mocha Island, off the coast of central Chile. I turned intrigued by how microorganisms may thrive in methane-rich areas and adjusted my analysis focus from marine biology to excessive environments. I needed to grasp how methane acts as a supply of vitality and carbon for microbes.
Since then, I’ve explored various weird environments. In 2010, I went in a submarine all the way down to 200 metres within the Black Sea, one of many world’s largest anoxic water our bodies. There, I discovered mats of filamentous micro organism that survive on sulfur compounds.
In 2017, I studied the microbes in Canada’s tailing ponds, synthetic lakes of water, sand and clay waste which are left behind after petroleum extraction. And I sampled the microorganisms residing in 100 °C Antarctic sizzling springs in 2022.
I got here residence to Chile in 2018 and started collaborating with a world workforce researching the geomicrobiology of thermal options, together with sizzling springs, geysers and volcanoes. After travelling with the group to Argentina’s lively volcanic area, I obtained funding to discover the microbial communities that exist beneath hydrothermal vents in southern Chile, the place the oceanic crust is subducting beneath the continental plate.
On this picture, I’m within the Atacama Desert in South America, the driest non-polar desert on the planet. I’m measuring 80–100 °C steam launched from a fumarole containing yellow sulfur, which crystallizes at its opening because the vapour cools. I additionally sampled sub-surface microbes which are flushed out with the fluids. We’ll sequence their DNA to evaluate the microbial communities and their organic interactions.
My objective is to study extra about subsurface microbes in excessive environments. I need to perceive how microbial forces formed the planet and the way these communities would possibly shift sooner or later with local weather change.