Bio-Organic Geochemistry research in China: Advances, opportunities and challenges
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The discipline of “Bio-Organic Geochemistry” is a cross research field between biogeochemistry and traditional organic geochemistry, which focuses on geochemical processes related to the biosynthesis of organic molecules (particularly lipids) by (micro) organisms, organic matter production by primary producers, degradation of organic matter by microbial processes recorded by retainable lipid biomarkers, and organic proxies for studies of paleo-climate, paleo-environments, paleoecology and Earth evolution. This field aims to go beyond the traditional petroleum-oriented Organic Geochemistry by integrating with biogeochemical concepts concerned mostly with biomolecules from cellular material such as DNA and lipids. A formal Chinese organization in Bio-Organic Geochemistry was established in 2012 when the first conference was held in Guangzhou. This organization has witnessed rapid growth over the past six years with focused research addressing organic proxies in paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental applications, with particular rapid development in glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers-derived proxies. Most progresses in China so far are made following or paralleling the international trend in biogeochemical studies. Things have begun to change with China’s ambitious initiatives in several bio-geo programs such as the Ocean Deep Drilling Program of China, the Microbial Hydrosphere Program, the Deep Carbon Observatory, and the Microbiome Program. Looking forward in the 21st Century, the growing Chinese research community in Bio-Organic Geochemistry faces grand opportunities and challenges as Chinese scientists propel themselves toward global research frontiers.
KeywordsBio-Organic Geochemistry Biogeochemistry Geomicrobiology Paleoclimate proxies Carbon cycles Microbial genomics
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This writing benefits from discussions with a number of colleagues from the Chinese Bio-Organic Geochemistry community. We thank the two anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments that improved the quality of the paper. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41530105, 41673073 & 91428308), the Ministry of Science and Technology (Grant No. 2016YFA0601101), the Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Marine Archaea Geo-Omics, Southern University of Science and Technology, and the Laboratory for Marine Geology, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Grant No. MGQNLM-TD201810).
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