Lab News

Tengchong PIRE


The Tengchong PIRE project aims to work toward a holistic and global view of geobiology in geothermal systems by studying the largest geothermal area in China within the context of similar research in other geothermal systems such as Yellowstone National Park. The project is a collaborative effort involving eight US universities and six Chinese universities. The project is funded by a 5-year grant from the NSF Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) program with co-funding from the Biology and Geosciences Directorates.


The study of high temperature ecosystems (>73°C) is a frontier in biology because temperature alters the ecology of these systems in ways that are profoundly important but poorly understood. We are limited by our poor understanding of the cycling of two of the most important biological elements, carbon (C) and nitrogen (N), and our complete ignorance of the functions of abundant microorganisms that have never been cultivated in the laboratory. Our team employs a broad repertoire of approaches in geochemistry, microbial cultivation and physiology, microbial community activity measurements, and genomics. By carefully coordinating our research and integrating datasets, we hope to make major advancements in our understanding of life at high temperature.


The research will be fully integrated with an education and training program designed to increase cultural awareness and stimulate long-lasting collaboration between US and Chinese scientists. To do this, we have partnered with the UNLV REU in Environmental Microbiology to provide 10-week summer opportunities for US undergraduates in China, summer and semester-long field and lab research experiences for US graduate students in China, and four-week field research opportunities for high-school science teachers in China. Each opportunity offers both scientific and cultural experiences designed to reach our educational goals.

Visit the Tengchong PIRE Website

June 2013, PIRE team hosts Symposium on China-US Collaborative Research on Life in Terrestrial Geothermal Springs

August 2012, PIRE undergraduate opportunities in Las Vegas Review Journal

August 2011, PIRE undergraduate research in China featured in Rebel Yell

June 2011, International symposium organized by PIRE in Kunming, China Read more

September 2011, Tengchong PIRE project featured in Science