Serpentinomics

Monday, August 27, 2012 - 14:34

I spent a week at the Coast Range Ophiolite Microbial Observatory in northern California, where we are monitoring subsurface microbial ecosystems associated with serpentinite rocks. Last year our collaborators drilled wells into these rocks, and we are now sampling water from these wells and characterizing the native microbial communities. 

The water is pumped up the well by pulses of air sent by the black controller box (on the left in the photo). Then water comes up the tubing and through the chemistry multi-meter (in the white box at the top right). Then the water collects in the first blue bottle, and we use the yellow pump in the foreground to pump that water through a filter that collects all microbial cells larger than 0.2 microns. The water that goes through the filter is then collected in the second blue bottle.

Because we study the genomes of organisms associated with serpentinite rocks, I like to describe our research as "serpentinomics." But on this trip I encountered a different kind of "serpentinome" who was not happy when I encouraged him to move off the road. (second photo)