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Berkeley Lab Awarded $4.6 Million for Transformational Agriculture Technologies

ARPA-E has awarded Berkeley Lab $4.6 million for two projects to “see” into the soil and ultimately develop crops that take carbon out of the atmosphere. One technology aims to use electrical current to image the root system. The other will use neutron scattering to measure the distribution of carbon and other elements in the soil.

New Leaf Study Sheds Light on ‘Shady’ Past

A new study led by a Berkeley Lab research scientist highlights a literally shady practice in plant science that has in some cases underestimated plants’ rate of growth and photosynthesis, among other traits.

New Technology Helps Pinpoint Sources of Water Contamination

When the local water management agency closes your favorite beach due to unhealthy water quality, how reliable are the tests they base their decisions on? As it turns out, those tests, as well as the standards behind them, have not been updated in decades. Now scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a highly accurate, DNA-based method to detect and distinguish sources of microbial contamination in water.

Lignin-Feasting Microbe Holds Promise for Biofuels

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified a rain forest microbe that feasts on the lignin in plant leaf litter, making it a potential ally for the cost-effective production of advanced biofuels.

Salt Seeds Clouds in the Amazon Rainforest

Potassium salts emitted into the humid atmosphere of the Amazon rainforest during the night and early morning hours by plants, and especially by fungus in the process of releasing spores, are the miniscule particles on which organic compounds condense to form cloud nuclei – the seeds of mist and clouds that each day form anew over the jungle. Analysis of aerosol samples at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source was a key contributor to the discovery.

CSI: Microbial Version without PCR

Berkeley Lab researchers have developed PCR-free techniques for identifying the most active microbial populations in samples based on the PhyloChip, the Lab’s award-winning, high-density DNA microarray. These new techniques will be used in a wide variety of applications including the development of advanced biofuels.

Ocean Carbon: A Dent in the Iron Hypothesis

Following the SOFeX iron-fertilization experiment in the Southern Ocean, deep-diving Carbon Explorer floats continuously collected data for over a year, straight through the Antarctic winter. Earth Sciences Division oceanographers analyzed the data and found that most of the carbon from lush plankton blooms, whether artificially fertilized or natural, never reaches the deep ocean.