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2011 Annual Science Report

Arizona State University Reporting  |  SEP 2010 – AUG 2011

Stoichiometry of Life, Task 3b: Ancient Records - Genomic

Project Summary

The goal of Task 3b is to advance understanding of elemental cycling in ancient ecosystems. Team members are developing experimental and computational approaches aimed at genomic analysis of modern ecosystems, and extending these approaches in novel ways to infer the function and composition of ancient communities.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
10 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

Along with continuing an impressive trend of high impact publications and presentations, Task 3b collaborators have been strongly engaged in leadership and outreach to the scientific community over the past year. In November 2010, ASU NAI co-investigator Dr. Eric Boyd helped organize the NAI Workshop Without Walls with Montana State NAI members. This unique, venue-less/internet-broadcast workshop brought together investigators from over 20 universities and research institutes to discuss their latest findings on the origin and evolution of life. The conference attracted a veritable Who’s Who of the origin/evolution of life community over three days of outstanding presentations and discussion. Continuing with this emphasis on virtual collaboration and outreach, Dr. Boyd also presented he and ASU NAI co-investigator Jason Raymond’s latest research findings at the October 2011 NAI virtual seminar.

While continuing with Cuatro Cienegas investigations with ASU NAI co-lead Jim Elser, Dr. Janet Siefert also presented these research findings as part of the NAI Workshop Without Walls discussed above. This highly collaborative project resulted in a publication led by Valeria Souza reporting on the staggering diversity of life in the oligotrophic pools of Cuatro Cienegas. As president of the International Astrobiology Society (ISSOL), Dr. Siefert recently co-organized the NASA-sponsored, highly successful triennial Origins 2011 meeting on the origin and evolution of life on Earth and beyond, held in Montpellier, France. This seminal event took place over six days in July 2011 and involved several hundred participants from every continent except Antarctica.

Another outstanding outreach milepost was set by Dr. Chris DuPont and Prof. Ariel Anbar who, collaborating with NAI MSU lead John Peters organized the NAI-sponsored Paleobiology During the Genomics Era, held in May 2011. The meeting was hosted by Dr. DuPont at the Venter Institute in San Diego, but also had a strong virtual emphasis, with many questions and discussions spawned thanks to the virtual interactions that have been established thanks to the NAI. Along with collaborative publications in PNAS and Nature, Dr. DuPont’s NAI-sponsored research on metagenome analysis recently appeared as an invited Annual Review, and new findings from his metallome research were just published in Metallomics.