Two scientists in the Area, Greg Hura and Vivek Mutalik, are heading up research projects that are part of the Department of Energy’s Biopreparedness Research Virtual Environment (BRaVE) initiative. Yasuo Yoshikuni, a scientist at the Joint Genome Institute, is part of a third project that is being led by Brookhaven National Laboratory. These projects will leverage bioimaging expertise to develop better therapies and vaccines for viruses, develop a high-throughput platform to rapidly design countermeasures to drug-resistant pathogens, and unlock the molecular basis of plant-pathogen interactions to create resilient bioenergy crops.
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.
In Cell Genomics, an international consortium led by researchers at the Joint Genome Institute team generated 824 new Actinobacteria genomes, which were were combined with nearly 5,000 publicly available ones and 1,100 metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) reconstructed from sequenced environmental samples in a previous study.
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.
Microbial secondary metabolites, those molecules not essential for growth yet essential for survival, may now be easier to characterize following a JGI proof-of-concept study in which researchers paired CRISPR and CRAGE technologies. CRAGE (developed by a JGI team led by Yasuo Yoshikuni) offers CRISPR a point of entry into microbes that it previously lacked. Then, by using CRISPR to knock out or activate genes, researchers at the JGI were able to monitor loss- and gain-of-function, with the analytical data showing peaks and valleys in secondary metabolites as genes are edited. The pairing proved to rapidly confirm enhanced production of 22 metabolites from six biosynthetic gene clusters. One of those was a metabolite from a previously uncharacterized biosynthetic gene cluster. Learn more on the JGI website.