Jill Banfield, an Earth and Environmental Sciences Area faculty scientist with a secondary appointment in the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology Division, co-led a team to discover 351 different huge bacteria-eating phages. One of these is the largest bacteriophage known to date–with a genome that at 735,000 pairs long–is nearly 15 times longer than the average phage.More »
Stephen Brohawn, affiliate faculty in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, is one of four Berkeley Lab scientists who have been selected for the prestigious 2020 Sloan Research Fellowship. In recognition of their outstanding work in science, the winners receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship, which can be spent to advance their work. A UC Berkeley assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, Brohawn studies life’s electrical system, which is responsible for sensation, thought, learning, memory and many other forms of communication within the body, from a molecular and biophysical perspective.
The other winners from the Lab are also assistant professors at UC Berkeley: Heather Gray, physics; Daniel Stolper, earth and planetary science; and Michael Zaletel, physics. For more information, read the Berkeley Lab Update.
Atomic-scale structural analyses performed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) are helping scientists understand the inner workings of the enzyme “assembly lines” that microbes use to produce an important class of compounds, many of which have uses as antibiotics, antifungals, and immunosuppressants.
These cellular machines, known as nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), are large, multi-enzyme clusters that synthesize compounds by passing a precursor molecule from one module to the next, with each “station” catalyzing a change in the molecule. In the past decade, researchers have learned a great deal about how individual NRPS modules work, but an understanding of how the assembly lines function as a whole has been lacking. In the hopes of eventually engineering custom NRPSs to make new and improved medicines, a team led by McGill University began investigating the bacterial NRPS that synthesizes the antibiotic gramicidin.More »
A team of scientists led by Elizabeth Boatman at the University of Wisconsin Stout used X-ray imaging and spectromicroscopy performed at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS) to demonstrate how soft tissue structures may be preserved in dinosaur bones – countering the long-standing scientific dogma that protein-based body parts cannot survive more than 1 million years.
In their paper, now published in Scientific Reports, the team analyzed a sample from a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex tibia to provide evidence that vertebrate blood vessels – collagen and elastin structures that don’t fossilize like mineral-based bone – may persist across geologic time through two natural, protein-fusing “cross-linking” processes called Fenton chemistry and glycation.More »
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, so the adage goes, it must be a duck. But if the duck gets infected by a virus so that it no longer looks or quacks like one, is it still a duck? For a team led by researchers from The Ohio State University and the University of Michigan studying how virus infections cause significant metabolic changes in marine microbes, the answer is no.
Little is known about virus-infected microbial cells that are transformed into virocells, and how the outcomes of these infections can affect the interactions within their ecosystems. Their research was enabled in part by the Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) collaborative science initiative between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and the Environmental Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL), a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
Read more on the JGI website.