David Des Marais

David Des Marais

Professional Biography:

• 1976-Pres., Research Scientist, Space Sciences, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA • 1975-1976, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Geophysics, University of CA at Los Angeles • 1974-1975, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Indiana University • 2001-present, Interdisciplinary Scientist, Astrobiology, CRISM instrument on the Mars 2005 Orbiter Mission • 2000-present, Member, Editorial Board, Astrobiology Journal • 2000-present, Member, Mars Exploration Program Advisory Group (MEPAG) • 1998- present, Principal Investigator, Ames Research Center team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute • 1997-present, TERC Advisory Board (astrobiology curriculum development) • 1997-present, Interdisciplinary Scientist, Astrobiology, Mars Exploration Rover 2003 team (formerly Athena team) • 1976-present, Principal Investigator, NASA Exobiology Program • 2000-2002, Member, Terrestrial Planet Finder Science Working Group (TPFSWG) • 1999-2000, NASA Planetary Protection Task Force • 1999, Co-chair, Pale Blue Dot II Conference, Ames Research Center • 1998-2000, CAPTEM, member • 1997-2000, NASA Space Science Advisory Council (SSAC) • 1983-2000, Editorial board, Biogeochemistry • 1992-1999, Associate Editor, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta • 1996-1998, Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research - Planets • 1993-1997, Member, NASA Mars Science Working Group • 1994, Chairman, Gordon Research Conference on the Origins of Life • 1990-1995, Editorial Board, Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere


B.S. Chemistry, 1969, Purdue University
M.S. Geology, 1972, Indiana University
Ph.D. Geochemistry, 1974, Indiana University

Research Interests:

Has overall authority for this research proposal and will be responsible for achieving its scientific, technical and EPO objectives. He also will participate in the investigations entitled, “Biosignatures in Chemosynthetic and Photosynthetic Systems” and “Modeling Ecosystems and Biospheres”.

Select Publications:

Londry, K. L., and Des Marais, D. J. (2003) Stable carbon isotopic fractionation by sulfate-reducing bacteria. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in press.

Des Marais, D. J. (2003) The biogeochemistry of hypersaline microbial mats illustrates the dynamics of modern microbial ecosystems and the early evolution of the biosphere. The Biological Bulletin, in press.

Visscher, P. T., Baumgartner, L. K., Buckley, D. H., Rogers, D. R., Hogan, M., Raleigh, C. R., Turk, K., and Des Marais, D. J. (2003) Dimethyl sulfide and methanethiol formation in microbial mats: potential pathways for biogenic signatures. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in press.

Bebout, B. M., Des Marais, D. J., Discipulo, M., Garcia-Pichel, F., Hogan, M., Jahnke, L., Keller, R. M., Miller, S. R., Prufert-Bebout, L. E., Raleigh, C., Rothrock, M., and Turk, K. (2003) Long term manipulations of intact microbial mat communities in a greenhouse collaboratory: Simulating Earth’s present and past field environments. Astrobiology, in press.

Des Marais, D. J. (2003) The biogeochemical carbon and sulfur cycles. In W. Sullivan and J. Baross, Eds., Planets and life: the emerging science of astrobiology, Cambridge University Press, in press.

Des Marais, D. J., Harwit, M., Jucks, K., Kasting, J. F., Lunine, J. I., Lin, D., Seager, S., Schneider, J., Traub, W., Woolf, N. (2002) Remote sensing of planetary properties and biosignatures on extrasolar terrestrial planets. Astrobiology: 2 (2): 153-181.

Hoehler, T. M., Alperin, M. J., Albert, D. B., Bebout, B. M., Martens, C. S, Des Marais, D. J. (2002) Comparative ecology of H2 cycling in organotrophic and phototrophic ecosystems. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 81: 575-585.

Hoehler, T. M., Bebout, B. M., Des Marais, D. J. (2001) The role of microbial mats in the production of reduced gases on the early Earth. Nature 412: 324-327.

Des Marais, D. J., Harwit, M., Jucks, K., Kasting, J. F., Lunine, J. I., Lin, D., Seager, S., Schneider, J., Traub, W., Woolf, N. (2001) Biosignatures and planetary properties to be investigated by the TPF Mission. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Publication 01-008.

Campbell, K. A., Farmer, J. D., Des Marais, D. J. (2001) Ancient hydrocarbon seeps from the Mesozoic convergent margin of California:Â carbonate geochemistry, fluids and paleoenvironments. Geofluids 2: 63-94.

Des Marais, D. J. (2001) Isotopic evolution of the biogeochemical carbon cycle during the Precambrian. In: J. W. Valley and D. R. Cole, Eds., Stable Isotope Geochemistry, Reviews in Mineralogy , Vol. 43, p. 555-578.

Jahnke, L. L., Eder, W., Huber, R., Hope, J. M., Hinrichs, K.-U., Hayes, J. M., Des Marais, D. J., Cady, S. L., and Summons, R. E. (2001) Signature lipids and stable carbon isotope analyses of Octopus Spring hyperthermophilic communities compared with those of Aquificales representatives. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 67(11): 5179-5189.

Des Marais, D. J. (2001) On the origins of photosynthesis. Science 291: 436-437.

Condie, K. C., Des Marais, D. J., and Abbott, D. (2000) Precambrian superplumes and supercontinents: a record in black shales, carbon isotopes and paleoclimates? Precambrian Research 106 (2001) 239-260.

Karlstrom, K. E., Bowring, S. A., Dehler, C. M., Knoll, A. H., Porter, S. M., Sharp, Z. D., Des Marais, D. J., Weil, A. B., Geissman, J. W., Elrick, M. B., Timmons, J. M., Keefe, K. and Crossey, L. J. (2000) The Chuar Group of the Grand Canyon: Record of break up of Rodinia, associated change in the global carbon cycle, and ecosystem expansion by 740 MA. Geology, 28: 619-622.

Des Marais, D. J. (2000) When did photosynthesis emerge on Earth? Science 289: 1703-1705.

Reid, R. P., Visscher, P. T., Decho, A. W., Stolz, J., Bebout, B. M., MacIntyre, I. G., Paerl, H. W., Pinckney, J. L., Prufert-Bebout, L., Steppe, T. F. and Des Marais, D. J. (2000) The role of microbes in accretion, lamination and early lithification of modern marine stromatolites. Nature 406: 989-992.

Caroff, L. I., and Des Marais, D. J., Eds. (2000) Pale Blue Dot 2 Workshop: Habitable and inhabited worlds beyond our solar system, NASA/CP—2000-209595, 320pp.

Doran, P. T., Wharton, R. A., Lyons, W. B., Des Marais, D. J. and Andersen, D. T. (2000) Sedimentology and geochemistry of a perenially ice-covered epishelf lake in Bunder Hills Oasis, East Antarctica. Antarctic Science 12(2): 131-140.

Fouke, B. W., Farmer, J. D., Des Marais, D. J., Pratt, L., Sturchio, N. C., Burns, P. C. and Discipulo M. K. (1999) Depositional facies and aqueous-solid geochemistry of travertine-depositing hot springs (Angel Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs,Yellowstone National Park, USA). J. Sedimentary Research 70: 565-585.

Farmer, J. D., and Des Marais, D. J. (1999) Exploring for a record of ancient Martian life. J. Geophys. Res. 104: 26,977-26995.

Des Marais, D. J. and Walter, M. R. (1999) Astrobiology: exploring the origins, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics, Vol. 30, 397-420.

Jahnke, L. L., Summons, R. E., Hope, J. M. and Des Marais, D. J. (1999) Carbon isotopic fractionation in lipids from methanotrophic bacteria II: The effects of physiology and environmental parameters on the biosynthesis and isotopic signatures of biomarkers. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 63 : 79-93.

Doran, P. T., Wharton, R. A., Des Marais, D. J. and McKay, C. P. (1998) Antarctic paleolake sediments and the search for extinct life on Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 103 : 28481-28493.

Des Marais, D. J. (1997) Isotopic evolution of the biogeochemical carbon cycle during the Proterozoic Eon. Organic Geochem. 27(5-6):185-193.

Des Marais, D. J., ed. (1997) The Blue Dot Workshop: spectroscopic search for life on extrasolar planets. NASA Conference Publication 10154, Ames Research Center.

Walter, M. R., Des Marais, D. J., Farmer, J. D. and Hinman, N. W. (1996) Lithofacies and Biofacies of Mid-Paleozoic Thermal Spring Deposits in the Drummond Basin, Queensland, Australia. Palaios 11, 497-518.

Des Marais, D. J. (1996) Stable light isotope biogeochemistry of hydrothermal systems. In M. R. Walter, ed., Evolution of Hydrothermal Ecosystems on Earth (and Mars?). Wiley, Chichester (Ciba Foundation Symposium 202), 83-98.

Des Marais, D. J. (1995) The biogeochemistry of hypersaline microbial mats. In: J. G. Jones, Ed. Advances in Microbial Ecology. Plenum, New York. 251-274.

Merritt, D. A., Hayes, J. M. and Des Marais, D. J. (1995) Carbon isotopic analysis of atmospheric methane by isotope-ratio-monitoring gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J. Geophys. Res. 100(D1):1317-1326.

Buick, R., Des Marais, D. J. and Knoll, A. H. (1995) Stable isotopic compositions of carbonates from the Mesoproterozoic Bangemall Group, northwestern Australia. Chem. Geol. 123:153-171.

Des Marais, D. J. and Farmer, J. D. (1995) The Search for Extinct Life. In: M. Meyer and J. Kerridge, Eds. An Exobiological Strategy for Mars Exploration. 21-25.

Des Marais, D. J. (1994) The Archean atmosphere: its composition and fate. In: K. Condie, Ed. Archean Crustal Evolution. Elsevier, Amsterdam. 505-523.

Des Marais, D. J. and Canfield, D. E. (1994) The carbon isotope biogeochemistry of microbial mats. In: L. J. Stal and P. Caumette, Eds. Microbial mats: structure, development and environmental significance. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg. 289-298.

Des Marais, D. J. (1994) Tectonic control of the crustal organic carbon reservoir during the Precambrian. Chem. Geol. 114:303-314.

Canfield, D. E. and Des Marais, D. J. (1993) Biogeochemical cycles of carbon, sulfur, and free oxygen in a microbial mat. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 57:3971-3984.

Walter, M. R. and Des Marais, D. J. (1993) Preservation of biological information in thermal spring deposits: developing a strategy for the search for fossil life on Mars. Icarus 101:129-143.

Des Marais, D. J., Strauss, H., Summons, R. E. and Hayes, J. M. (1992) Carbon isotope evidence for the stepwise oxidation of the Proterozoic environment. Nature 359:605-609.

Des Marais, D. J., D’Amelio, E., Farmer, J. D., Jorgensen, B. B., Palmisano, A. C. and Pierson, B. K. (1992) Case study of a modern microbial mat-building community: the submerged cyanobacterial mats of Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur, Mexico. In: W. J. Schopf and C. Klein, Eds. The Proterozoic Biosphere: a multidisciplinary study. Cambridge University Press, New York. 325-334.

Canfield, D. E. and Des Marais, D. J. (1991) Aerobic sulfate reduction in microbial mats. Science 251:1471-1473.

Awards and Other:

Fellow, Geochemical Society, 2002
Fellow, European Association of Geochemistry, 2002
H. Julian Allen Award, Best Paper, Ames Research Center, 2001
NASA Group Achievement Award, Astrobiology, 2000
NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, 1988
Ames Associate Fellow, 1983
Fellow, National Speleological Society, 1977
Sigma Xi, 1973