On September 21, the Biosciences Area held a welcome event to acknowledge the coming together of many new and existing research groups at the Aquatic Park facility in West Berkeley. Laboratory Director Mike Witherell and Deputy Director Horst Simon attended and shared their support. The informal program consisted of brief comments by Helen Cademartori, Biosciences Area Deputy for Operations; Louise Glass, Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division Director, who provided her perspective via videoconference; Mary Maxon, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences; and Mike Witherell. Witherell acknowledged the group for their shared vision for Aquatic Park and the many inter- and cross-Area collaborations that will be fostered through the colocation of these researchers.More »
As part of an international team led by researchers at Monash University in Australia, and at Kyoto and Kindai Universities in Japan, scientists at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) analyzed the genome sequence of the common liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha), a living link in the transition from algae to the multitude of modern land plants. The team identified genes and gene families crucial to plant evolution which have been conserved across plant lineages. The results were reported in the October 5 issue of Cell. Read more from JGI.
A plant’s health and development is influenced by the complex community of microbes that surrounds it. Researchers at the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and their collaborators at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of North Carolina have identified some 350 genes of the bacterium Pseudomonas simiae that positively or negatively impact how effectively this beneficial microbe colonizes plant roots. Cataloging these genes—and understanding the cellular functions that they’re involved in—is the first step toward developing targeted approaches to improving plant health and growth for a number of applications. The results of the study were published in PLOS Biology. Read more from JGI.
A study led by Cheryl Kerfeld, with colleagues from Biosciences’ Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, as well as her MSU-DOE Plant Research group at Michigan State University, made the cover of the August 2017 issue of Nature Plants. Matthew Melnicki, Markus Sutter, and Fei Cai of MBIB contributed to the study, which characterized a recently identified member of the orange carotenoid family of proteins (OCPs). These proteins change conformation in response to ambient light conditions to protect the host cyanobacteria from harmful exposure. Compared to the canonical exemplar, OCP1, the new OCP, called OCP2, requires relatively higher light intensity for activation, but it reacts faster than OCP1. The goal of Kerfeld’s OCP research is to understand how the various members of the family work, and use that knowledge to engineer the protein for applications in renewable energy and medicine. Read more from the MSU-DOE Plant Research Lab.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddhartha Mukherjee discussed the work of Biosciences’ Mina Bissell in a feature on worldwide research efforts to understand the factors that determine whether cancer will spread. Bissell, a distinguished scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) Division, has shown that a cancer cell’s local tissue environment affects whether or not it will form a metastatic tumor. The article appeared in the Sept. 11 edition of The New Yorker.