Astrobiology (general)

Fall AGU Session: Biofilms in the environment

By Keith Cowing
September 6, 2006

Fall AGU Session: Biofilms in the environment: Adaptive roles, microbe-mineral interfaces, and contributions to global biogeochemical cycles

In most natural environments microbial communities are associated with surfaces in structures known as “biofilms”. Numerous observations from terrestrial and marine subsurface settings, hot springs, and acidic mine drainage attest to the importance of the biofilm mode-of-life.

Detailed studies of microbial biofilms in the laboratory have shown that they harbor a number of characteristics that vary from more extensively studied planktonic growth phases, including physiological differences, cooperative interactions, and impacts upon micro-environmental conditions.

Due to their prevalence in many ecosystems, the relationship of biofilms with their environments is a topic that has increasingly attracted the attention of investigators from a wide range of disciplines. In this session, studies of biofilms with relevance to natural ecosystems will be highlighted, including linkages between sessile communities and their physical-chemical surroundings, and their impacts upon biogeochemical cycles. The organizers hope to receive reports specifically describing biofilms in the context of their physical-chemical environments. Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following attributes of biofilms:

  • roles in the sequestration or transport of nutrients, energy sources, and toxins
  • bio-mineralization and bio-weathering
  • community stratification and cell-cell communication
  • adaptations to “extreme” environments
  • contributions of biofilms to global biogeochemical cycles

Of particular interest are studies that apply innovative and cross-disciplinary approaches to the study of surface-associated communities. Invited speakers will highlights some of the key advancements being made in the field of biofilm geo-microbiology from both ecological and geochemical perspectives.

For more information:

or contact

D’Arcy Renee Meyer-Dombard
Massachussets Institute of Technology
[email protected]

Matthew Schrenk
Carnegie Institution of Washington
[email protected]

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻