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Scientists Call for National Effort to Understand and Harness Earth’s Microbes for Health, Energy, Agriculture, and Environment

To understand and harness the capabilities of Earth’s microbial ecosystems, nearly fifty scientists from Department of Energy national laboratories, universities, and research institutions propose a national effort called the Unified Microbiome Initiative.

It Takes a Thief

The discovery by Berkeley Lab researchers of the structural basis by which bacteria are able to capture genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological system holds promise for studying or correcting problems in human genomes.

Dirty, Crusty Meals Fit for (Long-Dormant) Microbes

Biocrust’s microbes lie dormant for long periods until precipitation (such as a sudden downpour) awakens them. Understanding more about the interactions between the microbial communities—also called “microbiomes”—in the biocrusts and their adaptations to their harsh environments could provide important clues to help shed light on the roles of soil microbes in the global carbon cycle.

Gut Microbes Enable Coffee Pest to Withstand Extremely Toxic Concentrations of Caffeine

Scientists discovered that coffee berry borers worldwide share 14 bacterial species in their digestive tracts that degrade and detoxify caffeine. They also found the most prevalent of these bacteria has a gene that helps break down caffeine. Their research sheds light on the ecology of the destructive bug and could lead to new ways to fight it.

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.

Boosting Biogasoline Production in Microbes

Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of E. coli.

MaxBin: Automated Sorting Through Metagenomes

MaxBin is an automated software program for binning the genomes of individual microbial species from metagenomic sequences developed at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI).

How Beach Microbes Responded to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

In June, 2010, two months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Regina Lamendella collected samples along a hard-hit beach near Grand Isle, Louisiana. She was part of a team of Berkeley Lab researchers that wanted to know how the microbes along the shoreline were responding to the spill. Some microorganisms love to consume hydrocarbons, and

Resistance is Not Futile: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels.

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.