Training School 4: Deep Life in Buried Salt Deposits

Location: University of Essex (UK) and Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (UK)

Date: 9th – 16th September 2018

Deadline for applications: 15th June 2018 (see form at the end of this page)

Goals: provide training in microbiology and geochemistry needed to investigate life in buried salt deposits: lectures, laboratory practicals and an underground experience!


  • Day 1. Arrival at UEssex- evening inaugural lecture.
  • Day 2. UEssex lectures & practicals.
  • Day 3. UEssex lectures & practicals.
  • Day 4. AM UEssex; PM Transit to Boulby.
  • Day 5. Boulby lectures.
  • Day 6. Boulby Underground Lab.
  • Day 7. Boulby Lectures.
  • Day 8. Transit back to Essex – departure.


Theories about the Origins of Life on Earth (Tina Treude)

Microbial Metabolic and Genetic Diversity in Aquatic Systems (Tina Treude)

Biogeochemical Cycles (Terry Mc Genity and Vanni Aloisi)

Limits of Life & Extremophiles (Tina Treude)

IODP drilling for the deep biosphere (Tina Treude)

Modern methods in Geomicrobiology (Josefa Anton Botella)

Introduction to the Messinian Salinity Crisis (Claudia Bertoni and Vanni Aloisi)

Halophilic Microorganisms (Terry McGenity)

Viruses and Haloviruses (Josefa Anton Botella)

An Active Deep Subsurface Salty Biosphere based on microbial reduction of gypsum?) (Vanni Aloisi)

A Sleeping Deep Subsurface Salty Biosphere? (Terry McGenity)

Life in Extreme Brines (Charles Cockell)

Biogenic volatile organic compounds and their role in searching for life on other planets (Michael Steinke)

Boulby Underground Facility (Sean Palling)

Habitable Environments Elsewhere in our Solar System and Earth’s analogues (Charles Cockell)

Microbial survival in space (Petra Rettberg)

Organizing Committee: Giovanni Aloisi (IPGP, France), Terry McGenity (University of Essex, UK), Tina Treude (University of California, Los Angeles, USA), Charles Cockell (University of Edinburgh, UK), Sean Paling (University of Sheffield, UK) and Josefa Anton Botella (University of Alicante, Spain).


– Both Essex & Boulby

  • Giovanni Aloisi (IPGP, France)
  • Terry McGenity (University of Essex, UK)
  • Tina Treude (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)
  • Petra Rettberg (German Space Agency)

–  Essex only

  • Josefa Anton Botella (University of Alicante, Spain)

Boulby only

  • Charles Cockell (University of Edinburgh, UK)
  • Sean Paling (University of Sheffield, UK)


Additional (free/guest) Lecturers:

–  Essex only

  • Michael Steinke (University of Essex, UK): Biogenic volatile organic compounds and their role in astrobiology

–  Boulby only

  • Claudia Bertoni (University of Oxford, UK) to join the visit to Boulby


Additional assistant:

–  Both Essex & Boulby

  • Emese Bartha (PhD Student, University of Essex)




Participation: MEDSALT will support the participation of up to 20 trainees with a fixed grant to cover travel and subsistence costs (accomodation will be arranged by the organisers).

Trainees eligible to be reimbursed: 1. Trainees from COST Full Members / COST Cooperating Member. 2. Trainees from Approved NNC institutions. 3. Trainees from Approved European RTD Organisations. See lists

Target Trainees: PhD Students and Early Stage Researchers (ESR, time elapsed between the date of the PhD/doctorate (or similar experience) and the date of involvement in the COST action is equal or less than 8 years). The selection of the trainees will address the COST policies towards Excellence and Inclusiveness:

  • geographical spread
  • career stage: involving early career investigators
  • gender balance


Download the flyer for more information. 


How to get to The University of Essex

The Training School will take place at the University of Essex, which is located on the outskirts of Wivenhoe, near Colchester. For information about travel to/from the University of Essex, please see

This page provides some more information — >

However, for travelling from Stansted airport, also look at the following —>

There is always the option of trains from the London airports. Note that the main exit station out of London to Colchester is called “London – Liverpool Street”. A nearby alternative, e.g. if coming from London City Airport is “Stratford (London)” You can find best routes and prices by using

A reliable and reasonably priced taxi company is, especially if you wanted to coordinate arrival times. Perhaps Giorgia could ask about arrival times and group people with a view to one of them booking the taxi (but may be more trouble than it’s worth).

To find specific buildings at the University of Essex, go to and enter the room number (see later) into the search box.



Note: General rules for participation in COST Action Training schools can be found in the COST web Page ( and more specifically in the “COST Vademecum” document (page 33) downloadable at this link: