This article is part of the Research Topic Deep Subsurface Microbiology

Perspective ARTICLE

Front. Microbiol., 24 January 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2011.00285

Prospects for the study of evolution in the deep biosphere

  • 1 College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE, USA
  • 2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 3 Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC, USA
  • 4 Biology Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, USA

Since the days of Darwin, scientists have used the framework of the theory of evolution to explore the interconnectedness of life on Earth and adaptation of organisms to the ever-changing environment. The advent of molecular biology has advanced and accelerated the study of evolution by allowing direct examination of the genetic material that ultimately determines the phenotypes upon which selection acts. The study of evolution has been furthered through examination of microbial evolution, with large population numbers, short generation times, and easily extractable DNA. Such work has spawned the study of microbial biogeography, with the realization that concepts developed in population genetics may be applicable to microbial genomes (Martiny et al., 2006; Manhes and Velicer, 2011). Microbial biogeography and adaptation has been examined in many different environments. Here we argue that the deep biosphere is a unique environment for the study of evolution and list specific factors that can be considered and where the studies may be performed. This publication is the result of the NSF-funded Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI) theme team on Evolution (

Keywords: deep biosphere, subsurface, evolution, C-DEBI, adaptation

Citation: Biddle JF, Sylvan JB, Brazelton WJ, Tully BJ, Edwards KJ, Moyer CL, Heidelberg JF and Nelson WC (2012) Prospects for the study of evolution in the deep biosphere. Front. Microbio. 2:285. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2011.00285

Received: 14 October 2011; Accepted: 31 December 2011;
Published online: 24 January 2012.

Edited by:

Andreas Teske, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

Reviewed by:

Patricia Lynne Siering, Humboldt State University, USA
Casey R. J. Hubert, Newcastle University, UK

Copyright: © 2012 Biddle, Sylvan, Brazelton, Tully, Edwards, Moyer, Heidelberg and Nelson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Jennifer F. Biddle, College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA. e-mail:

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