When bacteria are put in different environments, such as one that is more acidic or anaerobic, their genes start to adapt remarkably quickly. They’re able to do so because the proteins making up their chromosome can pack and unpack rapidly. Now, a Berkeley Lab-led team of researchers has been able to capture this process at
Scientists from Pacific Northwest and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories showed that both dietary and supplementary sources of a common gut microbe or its main chemical product, lactic acid, led to better memory performance in mice.
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 study aimed at identifying and examining the small messenger proteins used by microbes living on and inside humans has revealed an astounding diversity of more than 4,000 families of molecules – many of which have never been described previously.
Every year, hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells generates billions of gallons of contaminated water. Scientists at Berkeley Lab and the CO School of Mines believe microbes could be the key to turning this waste into a resource.
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.
For years, routine testing has shown that watersheds of the Mahaulepu Valley and Waikomo Stream in southeast Kauai frequently contain high counts of potentially pathogenic fecal indicator bacteria (FIB). To better understand the cause of the high FIB counts, the DOH commissioned a study by Berkeley Lab microbial ecologists Gary Andersen and Eric Dubinsky. After using a powerful microbial detection tool called the PhyloChip, the scientists concluded that most of the past monitoring results were false positives.
Wastewater is treated by an activated sludge process in municipal wastewater treatment plants and returned to the environment for use. This treatment process has been used for over a century, and today represents the largest application of biotechnology in the world, yet there has been no effort to map the global activated sludge microbiome. A
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have discovered that as plants develop they craft their root microbiome, favoring microbes that consume very specific metabolites. Their study could help scientists identify ways to enhance the soil microbiome for improved carbon storage and plant productivity.
How will the farms of the future feed a projected 9.8 billion people by 2050? Berkeley Lab’s “smart farm” project marries microbiology and machine learning in an effort to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and enhance soil carbon uptake, thus improving the long-term viability of the land while increasing crop yields.