Within the archaeal domain, there is a group of tiny hitchhikers. These organisms are abundant and yet exceptionally small, with mini genomes to match. To fill in their nutrient gaps, they must latch onto a larger host — often, a fellow archaeal microbe. Recently, researchers used population genomics to find that while archaeal hitchhikers may often act as parasites, in other cases, they likely help their hosts.
Through a collaborative effort, researchers have identified a protein in soil viruses that may promote soil health. The work was enabled in part by a community data portal of 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). Using 5,000 images of crystalized samples cloned and synthesized by the JGI, scientists have begun the complex process of uncovering the hidden secrets of soil viruses.
Biosciences Area staff recently hosted 40 PhD students from Wageningen University in the Netherlands over two days at Emery Station East (ESE) and the Integrative Genomics Building (IGB). The group launched their two-week California tour in the Bay Area, stopping by local biotechnology companies and prominent academic research institutions. The contingent visited ESE to tour the facility, make presentations, and discuss potential collaborations. At the IGB, the students attended a day-long symposium that included short talks, tours of several user facilities, and a poster reception.
Recently reported in Nature Communications, researchers led by Hal Alper at The University of Texas at Austin and Michael Jewett of Northwestern University describe a two-pronged approach that starts with engineered yeast cells but then moves out of the cell structure into a cell-free system. The work complements efforts to further develop sustainable alternative approaches for manufacturing bioproducts and biofuels. This is the first report of their work supported through the JGI’s Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program. Read the full story here on the JGI website.
The projects of 15 Biosciences Area scientists and engineers received funding through the FY21 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program.