ALAIN Karine

Directrice de recherche DR2 (CNRS)

Directrice de Recherche
Etablissement : CNRS
Affectation de recherche : Biologie et Ecologie des Ecosystèmes marins Profonds

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My research is devoted to the study of microbial communities living at deep-sea hydrothermal vents, and those living in geographically isolated and poorly anthropised geothermal habitats in the Southern and Antarctic polar regions. They aim to provide insights into the functioning of these unique ecosystems, the microbial diversity, the catabolic pathways implemented and some of the adaptive mechanisms used by microorganisms growing in these extreme environments, sometimes close to the physico-chemical limits of life. I am particularly interested in under-documented microbial metabolisms (sulfur and iron cycles), as well as in phylogenetic branches of life (bacteria and archaea) that are largely unexplored and without cultivated representatives (new lineages of methanogenic archaea in particular). For the past few years, I have been particularly interested in the disproportionation of inorganic sulfur compounds, in the taxa that implement it, the molecular pathways involved, the place of this catabolism in the sulfur cycle, its emergence on Earth and the geomicrobiological interactions associated with it.

 Major ongoing research projects :

ANR PRC ANR-22-CE02-0001 (2022-2026), MISD “Deciphering the pathways of microbial sulfur disproportionation in hydrothermal taxa” (P.I. K. ALAIN)
IPEV n°1231 (2022-2025), SEKMET “Sub-antarctic hot Environments of Kerguelen and Saint Paul: Microbial diversity and ExtraTerrestrial analogues” (P.Is. K. ALAIN, M. LE ROMANCER)                (Site:
ANR JCJC 2022-CE01 (2022-2026), IRON2MI “The IRON cycle in deep-sea hydrothermal vents: contribution of iron-reducing and iron-oxidizing MIcroorganisms and impact on MInerals alteration” (P.I. S. MIESZKIN)
ANR PRC 2022-CE02 (2023-2027), HOT-DOG “New insights into hydrothermal deep-sea vents microbial ecosystems” (P.I. S. MARRE)
PPR Ocean-Climate (2022-2028), LIFEDEEPER “LIving together in the Future: vulnErability of DEEP sea Ecosystems facing potential mineral Resources exploitation” (P.I. M.-A. CAMBON)

Keywords: Deep biosphere / Microbial ecology / ‘Extreme’ habitats / Cultivation / Molecular biology / Sulfur disproportionation / Methanogenesis / Iron cycle / Taxonomy, species concept / Relationships between the microbial activities and the biogeochemical cycles / Ecosystem functioning / High-pressure.