A team of researchers from the Biosciences Area at Berkeley Lab and the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom found one particular organism in the fly’s microbiome that helps protect it from atrazine, an herbicide toxic to flies that is commonly used in agriculture. This method of rescuing fruit flies from atrazine poisoning with probiotics may be useful for protecting pollinators in agriculture.
Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division Director Susannah Tringe was quoted in a Discover magazine feature on harnessing bacteria’s knack for breaking down material that other organisms can’t to clean up tricky messes—from oil spills to plastic waste to corpse-stained marble.
At the most basic level, all organisms are looking to break down something they can get energy and carbon from, Tringe explained. “If you can just develop a microbial community that learns how to break down the stuff that you want to get rid of, then you can kind of let them do the work,” she said.
As the article notes, Tringe is part of a research effort to better understand the microbial communities involved in treating wastewater from the oil and gas industry.
Vibrant cities around the world are made up of a unique blend of cultures, languages, cuisines, and – as scientists recently revealed – microbes. Nearly 1,000 scientists from around the world, including three from Berkeley Lab, collected and analyzed microbial samples from public transit stations across 60 global cities. They probed ticket kiosks, benches, and rails to see what tiny organisms like bacteria, viruses, and archaea were in residence.
Trent Northen gathered together seven experts who use synthetic communities to get at the key roles microbes play in complex ecosystems, to share their work in a mini-conference at the 2021 World Microbe Forum.
This session and others will be available to registrants for a discounted rate until July 31, 2021. Registration to access World Microbe Forum content ends June 30, 2021.
Microbes found in the goat gut microbiome could help humans convert plant material into valuable, eco-friendly commodities
Converting the tough fibers and complex sugars in plants into biofuels and other products could be humanity’s ticket to smarter materials, better medicines, and a petroleum-free, sustainable future. But harnessing the chemical commodities stored in these molecules is no simple task. We may take it for granted because our bodies seem to do it automatically, but in reality, every time we eat a vegetable or leafy green, the microbial communities living inside of us are performing an elaborate disassembly line of coordinated chemical reactions to break the plant matter into simple sugars that human cells can use.