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Major Advance in Artificial Photosynthesis Poses Win/Win for the Environment

By combining biocompatible light-capturing nanowire arrays with select bacterial populations, a potentially game-changing new artificial photosynthesis system offers a win/win situation for the environment: solar-powered green chemistry using sequestered carbon dioxide.

Possible New RNA Engineering Tool

Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that complexes of proteins touted for their potential use as a tool for editing DNA might also serve as an engineering tool for RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins.

Skin Tough

A collaboration of Berkeley Lab and UC San Diego researchers has recorded the first direct observations of the micro-scale mechanisms behind the ability of skin to resist tearing. The results could be applied to the improvement of artificial skin, or to the development of thin film polymers for flexible electronics.

Turn the Light On: A Non-visual Opsin Could Help Future Studies of the Brain and Central Nervous System

Berkeley Lab researchers have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation in the central nervous system.

Unlocking the Key to Immunological Memory in Bacteria

Berkeley Lab researchers have revealed how bacteria “steal” genetic information from foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system.

Screening Plants for Potential Natural Products the New Fashioned Way

Contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, an international collaboration led by Berkeley Lab has demonstrated that in vitro biodiversity is sufficiently broad enough to be used for natural plant product screening. Screening in vitro cultures for biological activity is much faster and more economical than screening intact plants.

Sweet Smell of Success: JBEI Researchers Boost Methyl Ketone Production in E. coli

JBEI researchers have engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel.

Copper on the Brain at Rest

A new study by Berkeley Lab researchers has shown that proper copper levels are essential to the health of the brain at rest.

Nanotubes that Insert Themselves into Cell Membranes

Berkeley Lab researchers have helped show that short carbon nanotubes can make excellent artificial pores within cell membranes. Moreover, these nanotubes, which are far more rugged than their biological counterparts, can self-insert into a cell membrane or other lipid bilayers.

New Lab Startup Afingen Uses Precision Method to Enhance Plants

By manipulating a plant’s metabolic pathways, two scientists at Berkeley Lab, Henrik Scheller and Dominique Loqué, have figured out a way to genetically rewire plants to allow for an exceptionally high level of control over the spatial pattern of gene expression, while at the same time boosting expression to very high levels. Now they have launched a startup company called Afingen to apply this technology for developing low-cost biofuels that could be cost-competitive with gasoline and corn ethanol.