A team led by UC Berkeley’s Jill Banfield discovered DNA structures within a methane-consuming microbe that appear to supercharge the organism’s metabolic rate. In a nod to the Star Trek universe, they named the genetic elements “Borgs” because the DNA within contains genes assimilated from many organisms.
A Berkeley Lab team analyzed the genotypes and phenotypes of several Arthrobacter strains to correlate cellular functions to their location at varying depths within a single sediment core and in nearby groundwater. They found that Arthrobacter, as a genus, has remarkable flexibility in altering its suites of carbon degradation genes. This genomic variation was found to be linked to the individual strain’s environment and is the basis for Arthrobacter’s ability to break down a wide variety of complex carbon sources.
On October 28, Berkeley Lab marked the groundbreaking for the Biological & Environmental Program Integration Center (BioEPIC), a next-generation facility for studying interactions among microbes, water, soil, and plants. The groundbreaking ceremony at the Bayview site included members of Berkeley Lab leadership, science groups involved with BioEPIC, site cleanup and construction groups, and the construction contractor.
A cross-disciplinary team of Berkeley Lab scientists with expertise in climate modeling, data analytics, machine learning, and geospatial analytics is launching a project to determine if the novel coronavirus might be seasonal. The team will apply machine-learning methods to a plethora of health and environmental datasets, combined with high-resolution climate models and seasonal forecasts.
A study led by Eoin Brodie and Javier Ceja-Navarro in Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) provides new insights into how the wood-eating passalid beetle’s complex digestive tract and resident microbes are able to efficiently turn tough plant polymers like lignin and cellulose into food and fuel. By bringing together a team of experts—including collaborators at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory—and using advanced molecular biology tools combined with spectrometry and tiny sensors, they discovered that the beetle’s gut is made up of specialized compartments, each with a distinct microbiome, that work together in a manner similar to a factory production line. “The key innovation that nature has provided here is a way to combine biochemical processes that are otherwise incompatible,” said Brodie, deputy director of EESA’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division, who has a secondary affiliation in Biosciences’ Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology (EGSB) Division. The study was published in Nature Microbiology.
Read more in the Berkeley Lab News Center.