Jill Banfield, at the Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area site near Rifle, Colorado, where research by her team has doubled the number of known bacterial groups. (Credit: Berkeley Lab, Roy Kaltschmidt)

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley research provides new clues about the roles of subsurface microbes in globally important cycles. This research is one of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date and has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life.

Jill Banfield, a Senior Faculty Scientist in the Climate & Ecosystem Sciences Division and a UC Berkeley professor in the departments of Earth and Planetary Science, and Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and team members from LBNL, UC, and the DOE Joint Genome Institute conducted their research as part of the Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area (formerly Sustainable Systems Scientific Focus Area 2.0).

The discovery of the new branches (between the 47 new bacterial groups reported in this work, and 35 new groups published last year) come with naming rights. For example, there’s Candidatus Andersenbacteria, after phylochip inventor Gary Andersen (EESA’s Ecology Department Head).

Read more about “New Bacteria Groups, and Stunning Diversity, Discovered Underground” from the Berkeley Lab News Center (October 24, 2016).