Deep Sea Vehicles
Advanced Projects: ROV-Deployed Instrumentation
The Advanced Projects effort at Global Oceans focuses on developing novel instrumentation and technology applications, together with our technology and supply partners, to support current programs and future initiatives.
Bringing "Piezophilic" Microbial Samples to the Lab Under High Pressure
An area of specialized application Global Oceans is currently exploring for the new ROVs is a deep-sea microbial sampling system that will retain water or sediment samples at ambient high-pressure and temperature to the surface, without exposure to ultraviolet radiation, for transfer to high-pressure systems in specialized shipboard modular labs, and post-expedition transport to land based labs.
Hydrostatic pressure at 6000 meters of seawater is 600 atmospheres, or about 61 MPa. This project is evolving and will likely involve ROV integration of existing and modified high-pressure sampling systems developed by the scientific community, such as the Pressurized Underwater Sampler Handler (PUSH50)¹ ² ³, as well as new approaches.
Retaining microbial samples at ambient high pressure at depth to the surface lab and on to shore is both a technology and logistics challenge, and Global Oceans may be able to integrate effective approaches in both areas, including strategies for linking to an extended global transportation and logistics capacity for specialized transport of samples to on-shore labs. We have begun consultation with leading scientists in this field and welcome collaboration with the international research community, research institutes, and commercial partners.
There is a growing scientific literature addressing the study of deep-sea piezophilic microbial systems in the ocean abyss, in hydrothermal vent systems, and deep below the seafloor (the “deep biosphere”).⁴ ⁵ Microorganisms living in extreme high-pressure and low or high temperature deep-sea environments are typically difficult to cultivate and study, yet they may provide a window into the physiology of microorganisms we might someday encounter in places like the deep oceans of the Jovian moon Europa.⁶ ⁷
Another area of ROV instrumentation for deep-sea science that Global Oceans is exploring is the design of an ROV-deployed, physically stable, pressure-resistant, microscopic visualization system for in situ observations of organisms at high magnification. This project is in an early stage of assessment and consultation with academic and technical experts.
Garel, Marc, et al. "Pressure-retaining sampler and high-pressure systems to study deep-sea microbes under in situ conditions." Frontiers in Microbiology 10 (2019): 453.
Cario, Anaïs, Gina Carol Oliver, and Karyn L. Rogers. "Exploring the Deep Marine Biosphere: Challenges, Innovations and Opportunities." Frontiers in Earth Science 7 (2019): 225.
Tamburini, Christian, et al. "Prokaryotic responses to hydrostatic pressure in the ocean–a review." Environmental Microbiology 15.5 (2013): 1262-1274.
Jin, Min, et al. "Properties and applications of extremozymes from deep-sea extremophilic microorganisms: A mini review." Marine drugs 17.12 (2019): 656.
Allen, Eric E., and Douglas H. Bartlett. "Piezophiles: microbial adaptation to the deep-sea environment." Extremophiles. Eolss Publishers Co. Ltd, Oxford, UK (2002).
Prieur, Daniel. "An Extreme Environment on Earth: Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents. Lessons for Exploration of Mars and Europa." Lectures in Astrobiology. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2007. 319-345.
Kusube, Masataka, et al. "Colwellia marinimaniae sp. nov., a hyperpiezophilic species isolated from an amphipod within the Challenger Deep, Mariana Trench." International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology 67.4 (2017): 824-831.