Jody Deming's Ecosystem

University of Washington, School of Oceanography

Our research interests:

Our lab focuses on the unique adaptations of marine microorganisms –– from bacteria, archaea, and their viruses to sea-ice algae –– that allow them to survive and even thrive in extreme environments, particularly within porous structures like sea ice and marine-influenced permafrost (called cryopegs). Current research, supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, addresses the role of gene exchange, especially as mediated by viruses, in facilitating microbial life under the extreme conditions of subzero brines, as occur in sea ice and cryopegs. Past research has addressed microbial life in other porous structures, including pelagic particle aggregates, coastal to deep seafloor sediments, and hydrothermal vents, often with a view towards the influence on carbon and other elemental cycles.

As cold adaptation in marine microorganisms has relevance to polar geochemistry and ecology, we have contributed to and benefited from involvement in interdisciplinary Arctic research projects over the years; e.g., the overwintering Canadian Flaw Lead System Study, CFL, aboard the Canadian research icebreaker Amundsen during the International Polar Year, 2007–2009; the Nansen Amundsen Basins Observational System, NABOS, aboard the Russian icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn, 2005; the overwintering Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study, CASES, aboard the Amundsen, 2003–2004; the International Northwater Polynya project, NOW, aboard the Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson, 1997–1999; and the International Northeast Water Polynya project, NEW, aboard the USCG icebreaker Polar Sea, 1992–1993. We currently have team members onboard the joint Swedish-US expedition to the North Pole aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden in August–September 2018..

Underlying our work is a keen interest in the limits of microbial life, especially in frozen environments, as they relate to astrobiology (UW Astrobiology Program), biotechnology and bioremediation (UW Marine Bioremediation Program). See some of our work featured at these UW School of Oceanography links: Frost Flowers Foster Microbes; Bacteria in Ice. Although we have been focused on low-temperature limits in recent years, we retain interests in the role of hydrostatic pressure in the evolution and ecology of marine bacteria at both very cold (in deep-sea and polar environments) and very hot (at hydrothermal vents) temperatures.  

News and Highlights:

  • We are excited about the Ocean Memory Project, generated by a collaborative network of scientists, artists and other scholars, who recently received a $500,000 Challenge Grant from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) (see press release). For more information go to the Ocean Memory Project Website.
  • The Deming lab was funded by NSF to join the Swedish-US expedition to the North Pole aboard the icebreaker Oden, scheduled to take place in late summer 2018. This collaborative project with chemist Elizabeth Shadwick and phycologist Walker Smith at VIMS will investigate the effects of elevated CO2 on the productivity of sea-ice algae, their release of EPS, and the fate of that organic material, including as potentail aerosols involved in cloud formation (link).
  • Jody is a co-PI on the Deep Ocean Memory project, supported by the National Academy Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI), which held its first workshop at the Friday Harbor Laboratories in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, WA, September 19–25, 2017, and its second workshop at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA, March 10-14, 2018.  She is also a co-PI on the related soniDOME NAKFI project that is exploring the conversion of marine microbial data into soundscapes or music. She will present the first products of that effort at the Polar2018 conference in Davos, Switzerland, in June 2018, and host one of its workshops at Friday Harbor Labs September 24-28, 2018.

  • The Deming laboratory in collaboration with UAF (Hajo Eicken), The Ohio State University (Matt Sullivan), and UW Oceanography (Jodi Young) has received a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation award, titled “A deeper understanding of gene flow during times of extreme environmental stress in cold brines".

  • In 2016 Jody Deming became the inaugural recipient of the Karl M. Banse professorship, a great honor to her, given this very special faculty member namesake in the UW School of Oceanography and the philanthropists and colleagues, Beatrice and Bill Booth, who made it possible.
  • Graduate students Evan Firth and Max Showalter were a part of the 2016 Polar Science Weekend at Seattle Pacific Science Center.  See the video produced by the Applied Physics Lab here.
  • Jody is Guest Professor at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, this autumn 2015, teaching a polar marine research course and hosting an international mini-symposium on sea-ice microbiology. (link)
  • Ongoing work with SHAMU makes the Caltech front page and the UW Astrobiology newsletter.
  • The lab went to Nuuk, Greenland, in March 2015 as a part of the Caltech/McGill collaboration to test SHAMU, a submersible holographic astrobiology microscope with ultraresolution.  See some pix here.
  • Go to Elementa to learn about this new, open-access, non-profit, university-based publishing platform (Jody is Editor-in-Chief of its Ocean Science domain), explore its Special Features, and see how to submit a manuscript and establish a larger collection of theme-based papers.
  • Jody and lab manager, Shelly, with help from new graduate student Max Showalter, organized and led the Astrobiology Workshop for 2014 aboard the Thomas G. Thompson research vessel to give Astrobiology students direct experience in the study of Earth’s oceans (link).
  • Jody is serving as the Director of the Future of Ice Initiative for 2014–1015.  For more information see their website.
  • The lab went to Nuuk, Greenland, in March–April 2014 to explore microbial adaptations to salinity fluctuations in sea ice and possible links to primary production, a project supported by NSF  (link).
  • Jody is working with lead PI Eric D’Asaro and Bonnie Light (UW-APl) to develop an under-ice Langrangian float, with support from the Paul G. Allen Foundation.
  • During September 2013 we and the Arctic community suffered a tragedy of immense personal and professional impact.  Read the CBCNews article or listen to a CBC interview with Martin Fortier.  Information on the funeral services here.
  • We have been a UW Certified Green Laboratory since 2013 - GOLD!      
  • See the NSF Highlight on our Arctic frost flower project that involves work by graduate students Jeff Bowman and Marcela Ewert.
  • Participants in a March 2012 Campaign in Daneborg, NE Greenland, were led by Soeren Rysgaard to examine carbon fluxes through winter sea ice. See the video of this effort.
  • Read blogs on exopolymers in sea ice at DeepBlueHome and MotherJones.
  • Read a recent interview with Jody at Action Bioscience.org.
  • Jody served as Chief Scientist for Leg 5B of the overwintering icebreaker expedition in the Arctic for CFL, the Circumpolar Flaw Lead Systems Study, Canada’s flagship International Polar Year (IPY) 2007–2009 project (listen to the CBC radio broadcast from CFL).
  • Participants in the ArcticNet 2006 expedition sailed through the Northwest Passage. See the Washington Post article. A short video also summarizes the 2006 effort.
  • Jody received an honorary doctorate from Université Laval, Quebec City, June 2006.
  • Jody joined other instructors for for the 2005 IARC International Summer School on Climate Change in the Arctic Ocean via NABOS.
  • Jody served as Chief Scientist for the winter legs of the 2003–2004 overwintering expedition of the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study (CASES).
  • Our lab participated in the NOAA-Ocean Exploration collaborative research effort in 2002 (click on Microorganisms at that link).