About this Research Topic
Numerous earth science projects are being carried out worldwide in the deep subsurface, both in natural and man-made systems. Life in the deep subsurface has been dominated by microbes, but as more labs, mines and other commercial facilities are installed internationally, the impacts of these conditions on humans have become increasingly important. The diversity of subsurface environments and interfaces that are able to sustain life, and the range of lifestyles that organisms have developed to exploit these systems is of interest to understand how life has adapted and is adapting to these unusual conditions. There is a need to focus on the interplay between biological activity and the chemical and physical environment of the deep subsurface, the study of which has applications in microbial ecology, human health, and astrobiology, among others.
In this Research Topic, we will review and edit articles that center on the biological response and adaptation to deep subsurface environments and the technical challenges associated with this research. This will be a highly cross-disciplinary collection, reflecting the expertise required in Biology, Physics and Geochemistry to successfully work in this field. Examples of environments that will be reviewed are active or abandoned mines, laboratories built in these mines or in tunnels under mountains as well as caves.
This collection of original research, perspectives articles and review articles welcomes contributions by international experts in the areas of life in the deep biosphere, low radiation environments, astrobiology, biogeochemistry, as well as by experts in biotechnology applications. Technical challenges of working underground and in extreme environments will also be addressed by papers on developing methods to mitigate cosmogenic and terrestrial background radiation and on the development of new technologies in acoustic, electromagnetic and radioactive silence.
Authors are encouraged to submit articles related to the following topics:
· Life in Deep Biosphere;
· Life in Low Radiation Environments;
· Biogeochemistry of the Deep Underground;
· Extremophiles in the Deep Biosphere;
· Radiation fields in deep underground labs: from high-energy particles to eV science;
· Methods to Measure and Mitigate: Background Radioactivity, Cosmogenic background;
· Life in Acoustic and Electromagnetic fields; and
· New Technologies for Acoustic and Electromagnetic characterization.
Questions that are addressed by this Research Topic include:
· Do these subsurface environments reflect primordial earth and does life in these extreme environments give us clues on life’s origins?
· Does life need low level radiation and is the lack of radiation or electromagnetism stressful?
· What are the most simple and basic requirements for life as reflected by novel subsurface biogeochemical pathways recently identified?
· Do such underground biology studies suggest a new paradigm to challenge the present assumption that health risk is linearly related to the radiation dose?
· Can we further quench radiological and electromagnetic noise to test organismal response under even more extreme conditions?
· How do physical parameters like low radiation and electromagnetism impact organisms; for example, How do GeV-level particles impart eV-level energy to organisms?
Photo credits: Ilaria Vaccarelli- Grotta Grande dei Cervi (Italy) Photo credit: Cristina Escudero -Laser confocal of bacteria colonizing Iberian Pyrite (Spain)
Keywords: Physics and chemistry of the deep biosphere, Low radiation health effects, Astrobiology, Biogeochemistry, Physical techniques to mitigate background
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.