Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
E25-637, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
phone: (+1) 617-253-7866
fax: (+1) 617-253-8630
web: Florences PAOCs website
Understanding life in extreme environments – key to the beginning and evolution of life
Microorganisms that live in hydrothermal systems have adapted to challenging environmental conditions such as extreme temperature and pH. Additionally, they rely on toxic chemicals, such as hydrogen, reduced sulfur species or metals as sources of energy. Membrane fluidity as well as proton- and electron transfer through the cell membrane plays a vital physiological role in this adaptation process. On this basis I am investigating the intact polar membrane lipid (IPL) composition of microbial communities in extreme environments. By doing so I hope to understand the change in microbial communities with varying environmental factors and their modes of adaptation. I am complementing the IPL analysis with compound specific stable carbon isotope studies of lipids and metabolic intermediates in order to gain insight into the carbon sources and metabolic pathways of the microbes.
My current research sites include the shallow marine hydrothermal vents at Panarea, Sicily in Italy and the continental hydrothermal ecosystems at Yellowstone National Park.
Hydrothermal systems are exciting to study, not only because they have been proposed as sites where prebiotic synthesis of organic compounds and development of the first metabolic pathways may have occurred. Studying these systems in present time and identifying microbial signatures that may be traced back in time (1) provides a powerful window into the early evolution of life and (2) can give hints on habitability and possible survival strategies for extant life on other planets.
2009 Dr. rer.nat., MARUM/University of Bremen, Germany.
2005 M.Sc. in Environmental and Marine Geosciences, University of Bremen, Germany.
2002-2003 Graduate studies of Marine Sciences, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
2000-2002 Undergraduate Studies (Vordiplom), Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany.
2011-present Postdoctoral fellow (Feodor-Lynen Fellowship funded through the Alexander von Humboldt Society), MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA.
2009-2010 PostDoc, MARUM/University of Bremen, Germany.
Edgcomb V.P., Bernhard J.M., Beaudoin D., Pruss S., Welander P.V., Schubotz F., Mehay S., Gillespie A.L. and Summons R.E. (2013) Molecular indicators of microbial diversity in oolitic sands of Highborne Cay, Bahamas. Accepted at Geobiology.
Raggi L., Schubotz F., Hinrichs K.-U., Dubilier N. andPetersen J.M. (2013) Bacterial symbionts of Bathymodiolus mussels and Escarpia tubeworms from Chapopote, an asphalt seep in the southern Gulf of Mexico In Press at Environmental Microbiology doi: 10.1111/1462-2920.12051
Bühring S.I., Schubotz F., Harms C., Lipp J.S., Amils R. and Hinrichs K.-U. (2012) Lipid signatures of acidophilic microbial communities in an extreme, acidic environment: Río Tinto, Spain. Organic Geochemistry 47, 66-77.
Wakeham S.G., Turich C., Schubotz F., Podlaska A., Li X.N., Varela R., Astor Y., Sáenz J.P., Rush D., Sinninghe Damsté J.S., Summons R.E., Scranton M.I., Taylor G.T. and Hinrichs K.-U. (2012) Biomarkers, Chemistry and Microbiology Show Chemoautotrophy in a Multilayer Chemocline in the Cariaco Basin. Deep Sea Research I 63, 133-156.
Kellermann M.Y., Schubotz F., Elvert M., Lipp J.S., Birgel D., Prieto Mollar, X., Dubilier N. and Hinrichs, K.-U. (2012) Symbiont-host relationships in chemosynthetic mussels: A comprehensive lipid biomarker study. Organic Geochemistry 43, 112-124.
Yoshinaga M.Y., Kellermann M.Y, Rossel P.E., Schubotz F., Lipp J.S. and Hinrichs, K.-U. (2011) Systematic fragmentation patterns of archaeal intact polar lipids by high-performance liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization ion-trap mass spectrometry. Rapic Communications in Mass Spectrometry 25, 1-12.
Schubotz F., Lipp J.S., Elvert M. and Hinrichs K.-U. (2011) Stable carbon isotopic composition of intact polar lipids reveal complex carbon flow patterns among hydrocarbon degrading microbial communities at the Chapopote asphalt volcano. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75, 4377-4398.
Schubotz F., Lipp J.S., Elvert M., Kasten S., Prieto-Mollar X., Zabel M., Bohrmann G. and Hinrichs K.-U. (2011) Petroleum degradation and associated microbial signatures at the Chapopote asphalt volcano, Southern Gulf of Mexico. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75, 4399-4415.
Rethemeyer J., Schubotz F., Talbot H.M., Cooke M.P., Hinrichs K.-U. and Mollenhauer G. (2010) Distribution of polar membrane lipid in permafrost soils and sediments of a small Arctic catchment. Organic Geochemistry 41, 1130-1145.
Lichtschlag A., Felden J., Wenzhöfer F., Schubotz F., Ertefai T., Boetius A. and DeBeer D. (2010) Methane and sulfide fluxes in permanent anoxia: in situ studies at the Dvurechenskii mud volcano (Sorokin Through, Black Sea). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 74, 5002-5018.
Borin S., Ventura S., Tambone F., Mapelli F., Schubotz F., Brusetti L., Scaglia B., D’Acqui L., Solheim B., Turicchia S., Hinrichs K.-U., Baldi F., Adani F. and Daffonchio D. (2010) Rock weathering creates oases of life in a high arctic desert. Environmental Microbiology 2, 293-303.
Schubotz F., Wakeham S.G., Lipp J.S., Fredricks H.F. and Hinrichs K.-U. (2009) Detection of microbial biomass by intact polar membrane lipid analysis in the water column and surface sediments of the Black Sea. Environmental Microbiology 11(10), 2720-2734.
Strapoc D., Picardal F.W., Turich C., Schaperdoth I., Macalady J.L., Lipp J.S., Lin Y.-S., Ertefai T.F., Schubotz F., Hinrichs K.-U., Mastalerz M. and Schimmelmann A. (2008) An analysis of the methane-producing microbial community in a coal bed of the Illinois Basin. Applied and Environmental Micobiology 74(8), 2424-2432.
PhD thesis: Schubotz, F. (2009) Microbical community characterization and carbon turnover in methane-rich environments - case studies in the Gulf of Mexico and Black Sea. University of Bremen, Germany. PDF
M.Sc: thesis: Schubotz, F. (2005) Investigation of intact polar lipids of bacteria isolated from the deep marine subsurface. University of Bremen, Germany.