Organic Biosignatures for Microbial Processes in the Terrestrial Marine Subsurface

Presenter: Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
When: October 27, 2003 12AM PST

The NAI Subsurface Biospheres is studying ecosystems in the marine
subsurface as potential analogs to habitats of life on other planets. When
analyzing organic compounds as markers for life and the related processes in
materials returned from other planetary bodies, the main challenge will be
the distinction of biotically and abiotically produced compounds. By
contrast, when studying microbial processes in geological systems such as
marine sediments that are nourished by organic compounds derived from
photosynthetic primary production, it is important to develop robust
criteria for the identification of signatures from current activity and
select against those from past activity. The presentation will provide an
overview on how we decode information on processes in the marine subsurface
from organic molecules such as intact membrane lipids and
low-molecular-weight organic metabolites.

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