Biosciences Area researchers have developed a new DNA analysis technique that reveals a very interesting, and previously hard-to-study, aspect of a microbial community’s genome. As described in the journal mBio, a team led by Aindrila Mukhopadhyay of the Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) Division has optimized existing methods to isolate plasmids—the small packages of DNA that enable microorganisms like bacteria to quickly acquire and share genes. Often, these DNA molecules, which are separate from the chromosomes, encode functions that can confer a survival advantage in certain situations. The work was conducted as part of ENIGMA, in collaboration with groups at Oak Ridge Field Research Center and the DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase). Read the press release in the Berkeley Lab News Center.