Diversity and structure of microbial communities in deep-sea trenches

Laboratoire d'évolution moléculaire et écologie des protistes
Section de Biologie: Département de Génétique & Évolution et Unité de Microbiologie
Prof. Jan Pawlowski
T: +41 22 379 30 69

The deep ocean floor covers more than 60% of the Earth’s surface, and hadal trenches (> 6000 meters) account for the deepest 45% of the oceanic depth range. Such remote and largely underexplored environment hosts diverse and active biological communities [1,2]. High-throughput sequencing technologies are becoming the gold-standard to document biodiversity and to address evolutionary and community ecology questions in various ecosystems. Yet, very little is known about the processes that shapes the diversity and structure of hadal communities.

Our laboratory is involved in multiple projects related the deep-sea biodiversity, including hadal trenches. We also develop bioinformatic and statistical tools that contribute to improve our understanding and interpretation of high-throughput sequencing data.

The proposed project aims at i) describing hadal communities along a depth gradient ranging from 5000 m up to 9500 m in the Kuril Kamchatka trench, ii) explore the ecological processes and environmental factors that shape these communities, by assessing the relative role of competition and habitat filtering in species assemblages and iii) explore the functional capabilities of these communities by mean of metagenomics / metatranscriptomics.

Candidates with background in molecular biology and interested in community ecology, marine biology and bioinformatics are invited to contact us for further information:

  • Dr. Tristan Cordier (tristan.cordier@unige.ch)
  • Prof. Jan Pawlowski (jan.pawlowski@unige.ch)


  1. Jamieson, A.J. (2011) Ecology of Deep Oceans: Hadal Trenches. eLS DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023606
  2. Lecroq, B. et al. (2011) Ultra-deep sequencing of foraminiferal microbarcodes unveils hidden richness of early monothalamous lineages in deep-sea sediments. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 108, 13177–13182