Jody W. Deming
University of Washington
Election Year: 2003
Primary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Secondary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Membership Type: Member
As a marine microbiologist, I have focused my research efforts on the behavior of Bacteria (and recently Archaea) in extreme environments, especially deep-sea and polar environments. I have used a combination of modeling and experimental approaches, in the field and laboratory, to explore the limits of microbial life and fundamentals of survival and proliferation under conditions of extreme temperatures, pressures and recently salt concentrations (as in winter sea-ice brines). The belief that what can be measured of microbial behavior in situ best instructs the design of modeling and laboratory experiments continues to guide my research. My laboratory has documented the ecological importance of pressure-adapted bacteria throughout the deep ocean, at both cold and hot (hydrothermal-vent) temperatures, and of cold- and salt-adapted bacteria in the high Arctic. Association with a solid matrix (sediments, particle aggregates, ice), and thus with the strategy of producing extracellular enzymes (to acquire dissolved organic sources of energy) and polysaccharides (for osmo- and cyroprotection), repeatedly emerges as critical to competitive performance under extreme physical conditions. We are currently using Colwellia psychrerythraea strain 34H, the first cold-adapted organism (highly motile in a glycerol solution at -10 degrees C) for which a whole-genome sequence is available, as our model organism for testing the lower temperature and other limits for microbial life on Earth and possibly elsewhere.