The subsurface environment off the shore of Costa Rica has been targeted by the broader scientific community for intense research efforts due to the unique history and current conditions of the plate subduction system. The unusualness of the system revolves around hypothesized changes in its behavior from those of an accretionary subduction system to those of an erosive subduction system.
We are analyzing the microbial community of deeply buried sediments within two drill-site locations on the upper plate of this subduction system, collected during the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 334. 454 tag sequencing revealed initial phylogenetic identifications, potential correlations with geochemical properties, and an extensive look at the influence of drilling methods on molecular work. As an extension, Illumina metagenomic sequencing from three depths at one drill-site location allows for not only an independent view of taxonomy and phylogenetic relationships, but also insight into how functional properties of these communities change with depth, and the potential metabolic capabilities of several largely uncharacterized subseafloor microbial lineages.