2010-2011 Schlanger Fellow – Sean Jungbluth

Sean Jungbluth

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Application of Environmental Genomics to Understanding the Potential Impact of Microorganisms on the Biogeochemistry of the Sediment-Covered Oceanic Basement









Second generation Circulation Obviation Retrofit Kit (CORK) observatories placed in ODP/IODP boreholes on the eastern flank of the Juan de Fuca Ridge (JdFR) provide a rare opportunity to study the microbial biogeochemistry and ecology of the sediment-covered oceanic basement. Two successful field seasons have proven the instrumentation developed at the University of Hawaii can routinely sample the CORK fluids and provide large volume fluid samples for geochemical and microbiological analysis, and ongoing research aims to describe the microbiology of borehole fluids. Here, I propose that the application of two genomic techniques, environmental genomics and single-cell genomics, would greatly enhance our understanding of this system by providing the first description of the genomic repertoire of the in situ microbial community, and would allow for the generation of testable hypotheses regarding the metabolic function and biogeochemical impact of this extreme microbial community.




I was born and raised just outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After discovering my niche, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a degree in microbiology. I then worked as a scientist at a Madison-area based biotechnology firm developing tools for molecular biology, but I left after half a year to pursue a Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa studying marine microbiology.  Beginning in 2008, I have had the fortunate opportunity to work in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Rappé studying the microbiology of the deep subsurface sediment-covered oceanic basement.  During my seemingly brief tenure here in Hawaii, I have already had the opportunity to sail on three research cruises out to the Juan de Fuca Ridge utilizing amazing submersible technology.  Besides science, I also enjoy current events, scuba diving, surfing, reading, Frisbee, and laughing.