University of California San Francisco (UCSF), UC Davis, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have formed a Tri-Institutional Partnership in Microbiome Research (TrIP Microbiome) to catalyze and fund novel, bold, and potentially transformative collaborative microbiome research projects. A unique aspect of the partnership is its data-driven focus and data infrastructure, brought through the participation of the Berkeley Lab-led National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC). The NMDC is working with TrIP Microbiome researchers to catalyze experimental co-design between biologists and computational scientists, adoption of data management best practices, and open science to enable cross-study comparison and machine learning.
A team of researchers from two U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories has found new evidence of tangible connections between the gut and the brain. The team, led by Antoine Snijders at Berkeley Lab and Janet Jansson at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), identified lactate—a molecule produced by all species of one gut microbe—as a key memory-boosting molecular messenger. The work was published in the journal BMC Microbiome.
Biosciences Area researchers, in collaboration with colleagues at Nanjing Medical University in China, performed the first study to prospectively investigate the gut microbiome in relation to Hirschsprung-associated enterocolitis (HAEC), a leading cause of death in Hirschsprung disease patients. They identified a microbiome signature that might predict the development of postoperative HAEC. In addition, they found that exclusive breastfeeding might reduce the risk of HAEC through modulation of the intestinal microbiome.
Microbiomes play essential roles in the natural processes that keep the planet and our bodies healthy, so it’s not surprising that scientists’ investigations into these diverse microbial communities are leading to advances in medicine, sustainable agriculture, cheap water purification methods, and environmental clean-up technology, just to name a few. However, trying to determine which microbes contribute to an important geochemical or physiological reaction is both incredibly challenging and slow-going, because the task involves analyzing enormous datasets of genetic and metabolic information to match the compounds mediating a process to the microbes that produced them.
An international team of microbiologists and genomicists, led by the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), has invented a genetic engineering tool to simplify the study of secondary metabolites produced by microbes. These compounds mediate internal and external messaging, self-defense, and chemical warfare, and are the basis for hundreds of valuable agricultural, industrial, and medical products. The tool, called CRAGE, will help fill significant gaps in our understanding of how microbes interact with their surroundings and evolve.