With funding from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program, Berkeley Lab researchers from the Computational Research Division (CRD) and the Biosciences Area are collaborating to explore how brain-inspired computer chips might benefit science.More »
Human skin is teeming with microbial life, and not just bacteria. An international collaboration among researchers at Berkeley Lab, led by Hoi-Ying Holman, the Medical University of Graz in Austria and at the University of Regensburg in Germany, found representatives of the domain archea–which inhabit some of the most extreme environments on the planet–coexisting alongside more run-of-the-mill microbes. What’s more, according to the paper published in Scientific Reports, the relative abundance of archea varies with a person’s age. Holman, a senior author on the report, is head of Chemical Ecology in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area and has a secondary affiliation in Biosciences in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) division. Using the Advanced Light Source (ALS), her group developed a rapid and label-free method to screen cells and tell if they’re bacteria or archaea. Read more from the Berkeley Lab News Center.
Researchers led by Berkeley Lab Biosciences’ Cheryl Kerfeld (MBIB), who holds a joint appointment at the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, have provided the first atomic-level resolution picture of an intact bacterial microcompartment (BMC) shell. The intact shell and component proteins from the saltwater bacterium Haliangium ochraceum were crystallized at Berkeley Lab; X-ray diffraction data were collected at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) and at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. Details of the BMC shell’s structure and composition were published in the journal Science.More »
Many bacteria contain structures called carboxomes that act as mini factories for various purposes, such as building sugar from carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. Researchers affiliated with Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division and the Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University are studying how these factories are constructed and how they function. In a key step toward identifying the essential building blocks, Manuel Sommer and Cheryl Kerfeld have analyzed more than 200 sets of genes from different cyanobacteria—also known as blue-green algae—that contain carboxysomes. The work lays the foundation for designing new kinds of factories that could produce synthetic materials, such as fragrances or the precursors for green fuels. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Botany. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.
Research co-led by Berkeley Lab researchers Junko Yano (MBIB) and Ethan Crumlin at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), with collaborators at Caltech’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), has revealed a surprising driver of a chemical process to reformulate carbon dioxide into more useful compounds. X-ray experiments coupled with theoretical models showed that oxygen atoms near the surface of a copper sample had a more dramatic effect on the early stages of a reaction with carbon dioxide than earlier theories could account for. This work could help make reactions more efficient in converting carbon dioxide into liquid fuels and other products. Read more in the News Center release.