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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

What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – and they’re not just bacteria. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

Genes, Early Environment Sculpt the Gut Microbiome

Scientists from Berkeley Lab and PNNL have found that genes and early environment play big roles in shaping the gut microbiome. The microbes retained a clear “signature” formed where the mice were first raised, and the characteristics carried over to the next generation. The findings could potentially be used to develop designer diets optimized to an individual’s microbiome.

New Bacteria Groups, and Stunning Diversity, Discovered Underground

One of the most detailed genomic studies of any ecosystem to date has revealed an underground world of stunning microbial diversity, and added dozens of new branches to the tree of life.

Berkeley Lab Participates in New National Microbiome Initiative

The initiative will advance the understanding of microbiome behavior and enable the protection of healthy microbiomes, which are communities of microorganisms that live on and in people, plants, soil, oceans, and the atmosphere. Microbiomes maintain the healthy function of diverse ecosystems, and they influence human health, climate change, and food security.

Scientists Take Key Step Toward Custom-made Nanoscale Chemical Factories

Scientists have for the first time reengineered a building block of a geometric nanocompartment that occurs naturally in bacteria. The new design provides an entirely new functionality that greatly expands the potential for these compartments to serve as custom-made chemical factories.

CinderBio Harnesses Extreme Microbes for Greener Industry

It’s no secret that extremophiles, or microbes that live in places like polar glaciers and toxic waste pools, may hold treasures worth billions. Now basic biology research has led to the formation of CinderBio, a startup co-founded by Berkeley Lab scientists Steve Yannone and Jill Fuss that produces heat- and acid-stable enzymes.

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.