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Six Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

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.

Unlocking the Biochemical Treasure Chest Within Microbes

An international team of scientists led by the Joint Genome Institute has developed a genetic engineering tool that makes producing and analyzing microbial secondary metabolites – the basis for many important agricultural, industrial, and medical products – much easier than before, and could even lead to breakthroughs in biomanufacturing.

A Community-Driven Data Science System to Advance Microbiome Research

The National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC), a new initiative aimed at empowering microbiome research, is gearing up its pilot phase after receiving $10 million of funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.

Scientists Hit Pay Dirt with New Microbial Research Technique

Long ago, during the European Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci wrote that we humans “know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot.” Five hundred years and innumerable technological and scientific advances later, his sentiment still holds true. But that could soon change. A new study in Nature Communications details how an improved method for studying microbes in the soil will help scientists understand both fine-grained details and large-scale cycles of the environment.

Berkeley Lab Celebrates the Integrative Genomics Building

Marking a step forward in Berkeley Lab’s vision to expand the footprint of the biological and environmental sciences, the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) was dedicated during a two-hour ceremony that culminated in the cutting of a double helix ribbon representing DNA. By uniting leading experts and world-class technologies under one roof, the IGB will help transform plant and microbial genomics research into solutions for today’s most pressing environmental and energy issues.

Breakthrough Technique for Studying Gene Expression Takes Root in Plants

An open-source RNA analysis platform has been successfully used on plant cells for the first time – a breakthrough that could herald a new era of fundamental research and bolster efforts to engineer more efficient food and biofuel crop plants. The technology, called Drop-seq, is a method for measuring the RNA present in individual cells, allowing scientists to see what genes are being expressed and how this relates to the specific functions of different cell types.

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.

A Whole-Genome Sequenced Rice Mutant Resource for the Study of Biofuel Feedstocks

Researchers at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute, are reporting the first whole-genome sequence of a mutant population of Kitaake, a model variety of rice. Their high-density, high-resolution catalog of mutations facilitates the discovery of novel genes and functional elements that control diverse biological pathways.

Berkeley Lab Breaks Ground on Integrative Genomics Building

Extending the roots of team science at its birthplace, Berkeley Lab will soon bring together researchers from the DOE Joint Genome Institute with those from the Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase) under one roof. The groundbreaking for the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) today celebrates the future colocation of two partnering scientific user community resources and launches construction of the first building in the long-term vision for a consolidated biosciences presence on Berkeley Lab’s main site.

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.