Biosciences researchers are among the recipients of four new DOE awards. Two awards will focus on reducing carbon emissions while producing bioenergy. The other two are aimed at understanding the role of microbiomes in the biogeochemical cycling of elements like carbon.
Beetle’s Gut Microbiome is Nature’s Biorefinery
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.
Biosciences Researchers Brief Advisory Panel for Food and Agriculture
Two Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) scientists recently joined colleagues from the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area to share their expertise with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Science Advisory Panel. They briefed the panel on their research related to enhancing plant-microbe interactions for improved plant yields and to increasing the efficiency of genome editing tool CRISPR in plants. Read more from Earth & Environmental Sciences.
Biosciences Staff Honored with Director’s Awards
Several Biosciences Area personnel have been named as recipients of 2016 Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards. Yan Liang (Biological Systems & Engineering), Eva Nogales, and William Jagust (Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging, MBIB) were honored with individual awards in Early Career, Scientific Achievement, and Societal Impact, respectively. Jill Fuss and Steven Yannone (MBIB) were the recipients of a team award in Technology Transfer for the launch of their company CinderBio. Jim Bristow (Biosciences Area Office, Trent Northen (Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology & Joint Genome Institute, JGI), and Susannah Tringe (JGI), along with Eoin Brodie and Peter Nico of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, were named in a team award in Service.
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