About this Research Topic
Oceanic crust is one of the largest potential habitats for life on earth, with implications for global biogeochemical cycles. However, our understanding of the microbiology of this system has traditionally been limited by sample availability and quality. Over the last five years, several major international programs focused on understanding life in oceanic crust were initiated. In addition, there have been many field and laboratory programs focused on understanding hydrothermal vent systems, which are an expression of fluids altered in the subeafloor crust, as well as in continental exposures of seafloor crust, including ophiolites and ore bodies. This research topic brings together recent discoveries of the microbial presence, diversity and activity in these environments, with analysis of the implications for global systems. Specifically, this research topic will address genetic strategies for survival in these diverse, extreme habitats; rates of metabolic and alteration processes; the impact of crustal life on global carbon cycles; and constraints on the magnitude of biomass in subsurface oceanic crust. Articles in the research topic are in tribute to the late Katrina J. Edwards, who was a pioneer in diverse aspects of exploring life in oceanic crust.
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