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International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM 2014)




Dates: October 5-10, 2014

Location: Pacific Grove, California


Downloadable Conference Material

About ISSM 2014


ISSM 2014 explored the link between microbiology, the subsurface environment, and microbial ecosystems. Emphasis focused on the newest innovations and research breakthroughs in the field.


ISSM 2014 is one of a series of conferences held every 3 years by the International Society for Subsurface Microbiology to exchange ideas and advance the science. It is being administered by the National Water Research Institute.


The conference was held at Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds, located in Pacific Grove, California. Asilomar is situated along the rocky coastline of the Monterey Peninsula, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is a rustic and secluded facility, with direct access to the beach, tide pools, natural sand dunes, and old growth forests of pine and oak.


Asilomar served as a venue for many noteworthy scientific conferences where groundbreaking findings have changed important paradigms in several scientific fields, most notably in molecular biology.


The conference program for ISSM 2014 includes four plenary sessions featuring keynote speakers and 10 topic sessions divided into dual tracks. In addition, two networking receptions were highlighted with poster presentations.


Sessions included Subseafloor Microbiology, Microbial Energetics in Subsurface Systems, Microbial Aspects of Bank Filtration and Aquifer Recharge, Molecular Tools in Subsurface Microbiology, and many more.

Subsurface Microbiology: New Frontiers in Subterranean Life and Ecosystems


The largest communities of living organisms can't be found on land or sea — they are underground, beneath the land and seafloor surface.


A broad range of microorganisms populate the subsurface environment. Some exist in extreme environments, where nutrients are scarce and temperatures extreme. Others carry out important biological or geochemical processes that alter their surroundings, such as breaking down pollutants or changing the mineral content of groundwater.


Yet many of the details about the activities and interactions of subsurface microorganisms have only recently come to light, and their impacts on the environment and public health are not yet completely understood.


Integrating microbiology and the geosciences, the field of subsurface microbiology explores the ecology and evolution of microbial life in subsurface environments that include marine sediments, terrestrial groundwater, and the deep subsurface. The outcomes of this research can affect our current state-of-knowledge and future advancements in many industries.


Take fossil fuel extraction, as an example. Although microbial-enhanced oil recovery has been studied for decades, more recent attention is focusing on subsurface microbiology as it relates to other methods of extracting fossil fuels from the beneath the earth's surface. The microbiology of coal-bed methane production and the effects of hydraulic fracking upon groundwater microbial communities are topics of increasing interest and environmental concern.


In the water industry, the role of microorganisms in drinking-water aquifers — how they biodegrade organic compounds, interact with minerals, and assist in the transportation of pollutants — has impact on issues such as groundwater quality and waterborne disease transmission. These issues are significant to communities interested in maximizing the use of their groundwater basins to improve water supply reliability through activities like the bioremediation of contaminated aquifers, groundwater recharge with recycled water, or the expansion of existing groundwater production infrastructure. Addressing these issues can help communities make sound water supply investment decisions.


Using recent advances in technology and methodology, research in subsurface microbiology is at the forefront of microbiological research in a number of areas. The rapidly developing field of metagenomics, as an example, is providing new insight into the characterization of subsurface microbial communities, whereas other researchers are examining microbial communities that thrive under extreme conditions in the subsurface to assess the possibilities of life elsewhere in our solar system and beyond.




Past ISSM Conferences


ISSM 2014 is the ninth in a series of conferences held by the International Society for Subsurface Microbiology. The conferences are held every 3 years in idyllic locations throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.


The most recent conferences were held in the Bavarian Alps (Germany) in 2011, in the shadow of Mount Fuji (Japan) in 2008, and below the Teton Mountain Range (Wyoming) in 2005. Details are provided below.



ISSM 2011 in Germany

Eighth International Symposium of Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM 2011) "Microbial Life Below Our Feet: Principles and Challenges of Subsurface Ecosystems," September 11-16, 2011, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.







ISSM 2011 in Japan

Seventh International Symposium for Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM 2008) November 16-21, 2008, in Shizuoka, Japan.








ISSM 2011 in Wyoming

Sixth International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM 2005) August 14-19, 2005, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.











For questions on the program or presentations, contact Suzanne Sharkey at ssharkey@nwri-usa.org or (714) 378-8236.


Additional Resources on Subsurface Microbiology