As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, scientists are still working to understand how the new strain of coronavirus evolved, and how it became so much more dangerous than other coronaviruses, which humans have been living alongside for millennia. Virologists and epidemiologists worldwide have speculated for months that a protein called ORF8 likely holds the answer, and a recent study by Berkeley Lab scientists has helped confirm this hypothesis.
Following an international search, Berkeley Lab has named Susannah Tringe, known for her work in advancing the field of metagenomics, to serve as Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology (EGSB) Division Director.
Converting the tough fibers and complex sugars in plants into biofuels and other products could be humanity’s ticket to smarter materials, better medicines, and a petroleum-free, sustainable future. Hoping to discover new and improved ways of processing plant material for industrial purposes, scientists like Michelle O’Malley at UC Santa Barbara and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have been studying the gut microbiomes of the planet’s most prolific herbivores: ruminant animals such as goats.
The Department of Energy has announced that Susannah Tringe and Dan Kasen, two scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), will receive the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award, one of DOE’s highest honors. Additionally, former Berkeley Lab scientist M. Zahid Hasan was also named as one of the eight recipients.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society, today announced that 489 of its members, among them nine scientists at Berkeley Lab, have been named Fellows. This lifetime honor, which follows a nomination and review process, recognizes scientists, engineers, and innovators for their distinguished achievements in research and other disciplines toward the advancement or applications of science.
Scientists from the DOE Joint Genome Institute and DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase have launched a public database of 52,515 microbial draft genomes generated from environmental samples collected around the world. The new resource, known as the Genomes from Earth’s Microbiomes (GEM) catalog, provides extensive insight into the many types of microbes that are impossible to grow in a lab, and expands the known diversity of bacteria and archaea by 44%.
Berkeley Lab researchers have achieved unprecedented success in modifying a microbe to efficiently produce a compound of interest using a computational model and CRISPR-based gene editing. Their approach could dramatically speed up the research and development phase for new biomanufacturing processes, getting advanced bio-based products, such as sustainable fuels and plastic alternatives, on the shelves faster.
Three scientists at Berkeley Lab have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to receive significant funding for research through its Early Career Research Program (ECRP). In addition, three faculty scientists with joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley will receive ECRP funding through their UC Berkeley affiliations.
A study of how fungi sense and respond to available food helps explain nutrient recycling and opens the door to better methods for producing bio-based products.
Berkeley Lab’s Rebecca Abergel, Roland Bürgmann, Cheryl A. Kerfeld, Michael Manga, Natalie Roe, and David V. Schaffer have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.