University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
2007-2008 Distinguished Lecturer
Unlocking the Secrets of the Deep Subsurface Biosphere

Prokaryotic activity—including anaerobic respiration, methanogenesis, or fermentation—is commonly found in the deep subsurface habitat represented by the marine sediments covering more than two thirds of the Earth. Microbial cells in these deep marine sediments constitute a significant portion of Earth’s prokaryotic biomass. But as extensive as the microbial community appears to be, our understanding of it is poor—with fundamental questions about the characteristics of this subseafloor ecosystem still to be answered. What kind of Bacteria and Archaea dominate in subseafloor prokaryotic communities? What are their functional genes and their metabolic activities that allow them to thrive in the subsurface? Does deep subsurface life flourish independently of the photosynthetic surface biosphere? Almost every scientific ocean drilling expedition re-emphasizes that microbiologists and geochemists—working together—can help answer these questions and add to our increasing knowledge of the deep subsurface biosphere. Dr. Teske’s research focuses on these questions, using the essential nucleic-acid based approaches of microbial ecology.

Dr. Teske has sailed on Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Transit 190 and on Leg 201 as a microbiologist and plans to join an upcoming cruise to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.


October 4-5, 2007 – University of Oklahoma
October 9, 2007 – Albany State University
November 1-2, 2007 – Barnard College
November 8-9, 2007 – University of Georgia
September 11, 2008 – University of Tennessee
November 3, 2008 – Indiana University, Bloomington