Researchers at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University (MSU), led by Cheryl Kerfeld, have created a genetically engineered bacterial microcompartment (BMC) shell based on natural structures and the principles of protein evolution. The new shell is smaller and simpler, made of only a single designed protein (natural BMCs are made of up to three), making it easier to work with in the lab.More »
Pam Ronald, faculty scientist in EGSB and scientific lead of plant pathology at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of her distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. She joins 100 scientists and engineers from the U.S. and 25 from across the world as new lifelong members and foreign associates.More »
The unicellular green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis has the ability to shift metabolic modes from photoautotrophic (synthesizing food using light as energy source) to heterotrophic (obtaining food and energy from exogenous sources) in response to carbon source availability in the light. It also has the capacity—under certain conditions—to produce high amounts of commercially relevant bioproducts: notably, the ketocarotenoid astaxanthin, used in feed, cosmetics, and as a nutraceutical, and triacylglycerol (TAG) biofuel precursors.
Understanding how photosynthesis and metabolism are regulated in algae could, via bioengineering, enable scientists to reroute metabolism toward beneficial bioproducts for energy, food, and human health. To that end, Berkeley Lab Biosciences researchers used C. zofingiensis as a simple algal model system to investigate conserved eukaryotic sugar responses, as well as mechanisms of thylakoid breakdown and biogenesis in chloroplasts.More »
The Helical Carotenoid Protein 2 (HCP2) protein is an ancestor of proteins that are known to protect against damage caused by excess light exposure. Researchers in the laboratory of Cheryl Kerfeld, guest faculty in the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division, are the first to structurally and biophysically analyze a protein from the HCP family. This HCP protein family was discovered recently by Kerfeld and the members of her lab, who are based in EGSB and at Michigan State University (MSU). To solve the molecular structure of HCP2, X-ray diffraction was measured at beam line 5.0.2 in the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology of the Advanced Light Source (ALS). The structure was refined using Phenix, a software suite for automated determination of molecular structures developed under the direction of Paul Adams, Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division Director. Read more in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory news story.
Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division Director N. Louise Glass was presented with the Robert L. Metzenberg Award during the 30th Fungal Genetics Conference held March 12–17 in Pacific Grove, Calif. Established by the Neurospora research community in 2004, the award was named in honor of the late geneticist Robert Metzenberg’s (1930-2007) seminal contributions to the field. It is given every two to four years at the discretion of the Neurospora Policy Committee to a researcher at any stage of career development whose innovative achievements have significantly advanced the understanding of biology (of Neurospora and beyond). Metzenberg was Glass’s postdoctoral mentor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.