It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of James Patrick O’Neil on August 7 at age 55 from complications related to heart failure. A staff scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB) Division, Jim worked at Berkeley Lab for 24 years. He passed away surrounded by family and friends and will be dearly missed. A memorial service will be held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley on Saturday, October 20, at 2 PM.More »
In the quest to find the key to a rainforest-dwelling bacterium’s lignin-degrading ability, researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have constructed a gene expression system that outperforms conventional systems, called Jungle Express. Controlling gene expression is crucial to scientists’ ability to perform basic science and biotechnological research to produce enzymes, bio-based products, and biofuels, both at the bench and on industrial scales. Read the Science Short on the Berkeley Lab News Center.
Haloarchaea flourish in hypersaline environments, and researchers are interested in learning how these microbes have learned to adapt from marine to hypersaline conditions by studying the microbial communities in Antarctic lakes. To assess the genomic variation in haloarchaea, a team including JGI researchers characterized metagenomes (collections of partial genomes) from six hypersaline Antarctic lakes. These data allowed researchers to define a haloarchaea “pan-genome,” the total pool of genetic material comprised by all members of a species. The The genome and metagenome data are available through JGI’s Integrated Microbial Genomes & Microbiomes (IMG/M) platform. Learn more on the JGI website.
Rick Perry awarded a Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award to the Pretreatment and Process Development Team of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). The team was recognized for pioneering the development of biomass-derived ionic liquids (“bionic liquids”) to enable efficient and sustainable one-pot biofuel conversion technologies. The multi-Lab team includes Biosciences researcher Blake Simmons and affiliate Aaron Socha. On hand to receive the award from Secretary Perry at the ceremony held on August 29were Timothy Dutta, Murthy Konda, Seema Singh, and Socha (pictured above from left to right with Secretary Perry in the center). For more, please read the JBEI news story.
Biosciences’ Cynthia McMurray and Mike Martin of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) are spearheading an effort to develop a noninvasive, label-free technique to probe living cells in their native environments to aid in biological and medical research. By shining highly focused infrared light—which doesn’t damage or otherwise alter the cells—they hope to be able to distinguish features within cells and identify individual cell types by their unique spectral signatures. McMurray, a senior scientist in Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging (MBIB), and Martin, photon science operations group lead at the ALS, received a round of seed money earlier this year to support their effort, dubbed “spectral phenotyping.” An Aug. 8 news article in the journal Science highlighted their work and that of the larger Human Cell Atlas project that aims to provide “a unique ID card for each cell type,” as well as a 3D map of how cells form tissues, and new insights into disease.
Read more in the News Center.