Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2017

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E20

Preliminary results on the sub-terrestrial biosphere of the neo-island Surtsey

Höfundar / Authors: Pauline Bergsten 1,4, Pauline Vannier 1, Alexandra M. Klonowski 1, Andri Stefánsson 4, Tobias B Weisenberger 2, Marie Jackson 3, Magnús Tumi Guðmundsson4 and Viggó Þór Marteinsson 1,4.

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. Matís, 2. Ísor, 3. University of Utah, 4. University of Iceland

Kynnir / Presenter: Pauline Bergsten

Surtsey was created fifty years ago by an underwater eruptive activity within the southern offshore extension of the southeast Icelandic volcanic rift zone. This unique volcanic island, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, constitutes a “pristine natural laboratory” for studying volcanology, mineralogy and biology.
IceSUSTAIN is the Iceland-based part of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) drilling program, a multidisciplinary international project (SUSTAIN) that will explore the volcanic edifice of Surtsey. One of the principal research objectives of the project is to describes the active microbial colonization of sub-terrestrial deposits in the Surtsey volcano. In August 2017, three holes were drilled, two vertical holes down to 150m and 192m depth and one incline hole 354 m long. Cores were collect at different depths for microbial detection and analysis.
Investigations of the underwater volcanic biosphere from a previously drilled hole from 1979 identified both bacterial and archaeal 16S rDNA sequences (e.g. methanomicrobia-related sequences and archaeoglobus-like sequences) and viruses with icosahedral symmetry. The investigation into the subsurface biosphere, its diversity and function, is now continuing through the analysis of the new core samples using high-throughput amplicon sequencing, functional metagenomics and metatranscriptomic analysis. Apart from this cultivation-independent approach, isolation of autotrophic (e.g. methane, iron or sulfur metabolisms) and heterotrophic microorganisms will be targeted using enrichment cultures and specific cultivation media. The interactions between minerals present in the rock and microorganisms will be studied by Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization.
In this presentation, an overview of our results from water samples from the old drill hole will be shown along with the sampling process and on-going and future research activities. Results of this project might reveal how life appear after a volcanic eruption in a newly formed island. Furthermore, new species and bioactive compounds might be discovered with a high biotechnological potential.