Biological soil crusts, or biocrusts, contain communities of microorganisms—including fungi, bacteria, and archaea—that dwell together within the uppermost millimeters of soil in arid lands. These microbes can exist for extended periods in a desiccated, dormant state, becoming metabolically active when it rains. Understanding how biocrust microbial communities adapt to their harsh environments could help shed light on the roles of soil microbes in the global carbon cycle. Berkeley Lab scientists led by Trent Northen’s group in Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology (EGSB) found that specific compounds are transformed by and strongly associated with specific bacteria in native biological soil crust. The researchers reported their findings in a paper published January 2 in Nature Communications.
Grayson (D-Concord) and his district director Naser Javaid recently visited JGI to learn about their sequencing, metabolomics, single-cell genomics, and DNA synthesis capabilities. Grayson also met with JGI Director Nigel Mouncey and heard from researchers Susannah Tringe and Trent Northen.
The projects of 13 Biosciences Area scientists and engineers received funding through the FY17 Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program. The funded projects cover a broad range of topics including the study of microbiomes in relation to their environment, plants, and gut health; catalysis for solar conversion to energy; and genomic expression in tissue. Among them were three projects related to Lab-wide initiatives. Together, these efforts account for 17.5% of the $25.2 million allocated. Lab-wide, a total of 88 projects were selected from a field of 166 proposals.
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.
Jay Keasling, Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences, announced that N. Louise Glass, PhD, has accepted the position of Division Director for the Environmental Genomics & Systems Biology (EGSB) Division. She will continue as a professor at UC Berkeley while she leads the Division, beginning this July.