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Thirdhand Smoke Found to Increase Lung Cancer Risk in Mice

Researchers at Berkeley Lab identified thirdhand smoke, the toxic residues that linger on indoor surfaces and in dust long after a cigarette has been extinguished, as a health hazard nearly 10 years ago. Now a new study has found that it also increases lung cancer risk in mice.

Teaching Computers to Guide Science: New Machine Learning Method Sees the Forests and the Trees

While it may be the era of supercomputers and “big data,” without smart methods to mine all that data, it’s only so much digital detritus. Now researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley have come up with a novel machine learning method that enables scientists to derive insights from systems of previously intractable complexity in record time.

Gene Enhancers Are Important Despite Apparent Redundancy

Scientists answered a long-standing question about the role of enhancers. And by better linking the genomic complement of an organism with its expressed characteristics, their work offers new insights that further the growing field of systems biology, which seeks to gain a predictive understanding of living systems.

Silencing Is Golden: Scientists Image Molecules Vital for Gene Regulation

Lab scientists use cryo-electron microscopy to gain a deeper understanding of the structure of a regulatory complex. Their research could open up new possibilities for cancer therapies.

Real World Native Biocrusts: Microbial Metabolism

Specific compounds are transformed by and strongly associated with specific bacteria in native biological soil crust (biocrust) using a suite of tools called “exometabolomics.” Understanding how microbial communities in biocrusts adapt to harsh environments could shed light on the roles of soil microbes in the global carbon cycle.

Berkeley Lab Researchers ID Plant ‘Sunscreen’ Protein

Berkeley Lab researchers have identified a protein that protects plants from damage caused by too much light energy. They found that plants with deficient levels of the lipocalin protein, found in chloroplasts, are less able to dissipate excess light energy.

Detailed View of Immune Proteins Could Lead to New Pathogen-Defense Strategies

Biologists at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley used cryo-EM to resolve the structure of a ring of proteins used by the immune system to summon support when under attack, providing new insight into potential strategies for protection from pathogens. The researchers captured the high-resolution image of a protein ring, called an inflammasome, as it was bound to flagellin, a protein from the whiplike tail used by bacteria to propel themselves forward.

X-Rays Reveal the Biting Truth About Parrotfish Teeth

A new study has revealed a chain mail-like woven microstructure that gives parrotfish teeth their remarkable ability to chomp on coral all day long – the structure could serve as a blueprint for designing ultra-durable synthetic materials.

To Find New Biofuel Enzymes, It Can Take a Microbial Village

In search of new plant enzymes? Try looking in compost. Researchers at JBEI have demonstrated the importance of microbial communities as a source of stable enzymes that could be used to convert plants to biofuels. This approach yields robust enzymes that researchers can’t easily obtain from isolates.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Help Map the Microbiome of Everything

In the Earth Microbiome Project, an extensive global team collected more than 27,000 samples from numerous, diverse environments around the globe. They analyzed the unique collections of microbes – the microbiomes – living in each sample to generate the first reference database of bacteria colonizing the planet. Thanks to newly standardized protocols, original analytical methods and open data-sharing, the project will continue to grow and improve as new data are added. The paper describing this effort, published November