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DOE Renews Funding for Joint BioEnergy Institute at Berkeley Lab

The Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led by Berkeley Lab, is one of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers to receive funding in support of innovative research on biofuels and bioproducts. The four centers will receive a total of $40 million. The award marks the next research phase at JBEI, originally established in 2007.

New Berkeley Lab Algorithms Extract 3-D Biological Structure From Limited Data

A new algorithmic framework called M-TIP helps researchers determine the molecular structure of proteins and viruses from X-ray free electron laser data, which is crucial in fields like biology and medicine.

A Whole-Genome Sequenced Rice Mutant Resource for the Study of Biofuel Feedstocks

Researchers at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute, in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute, are reporting the first whole-genome sequence of a mutant population of Kitaake, a model variety of rice. Their high-density, high-resolution catalog of mutations facilitates the discovery of novel genes and functional elements that control diverse biological pathways.

What’s On Your Skin? Archaea, That’s What

It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms – and they’re not just bacteria. A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

Study Sheds Light on How Bacterial Organelles Assemble

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Michigan State University are providing the clearest view yet of an intact bacterial microcompartment, revealing at atomic-level resolution the structure and assembly of the organelle’s protein shell. This work could benefit research in bioenergy and pathogenesis, and it could lead to new methods of bioengineering bacteria for beneficial purposes.

Researchers Find New Mechanism for Genome Regulation

The mechanisms that separate mixtures of oil and water may also help the organization of a part of our DNA called heterochromatin, according to a new Berkeley Lab study. Researchers found that liquid-liquid phase separation helps heterochromatin organize large parts of the genome into specific regions of the nucleus. The work addresses a long-standing question about how DNA functions are organized in space and time, including how genes are silenced or expressed.

Sequencing of Green Alga Genome Provides Blueprint to Advance Clean Energy, Bioproducts

Scientists have sequenced the genome of a green alga that has drawn commercial interest as a strong producer of quality lipids for biofuel production. The chromosome-assembly genome of Chromochloris zofingiensis provides a blueprint for new discoveries in producing sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, and other valuable bioproducts.

Scientists Sequence Genome of Snail That Spreads Parasitic Worm

Scientists have characterized the genome of a freshwater snail that is instrumental in transmitting a parasitic worm to humans. The achievement could help researchers disrupt the life cycle of B. glabrata and potentially eliminate schistosomiasis, also known as snail fever.

Could This Enzyme Help Turn Biofuel Waste into Something Useful?

Researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute are looking to common soil bacteria for help in converting aryl compounds, a common waste product from biofuels synthesis, into something of value.

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Achieves Unprecedented Resolution Using New Computational Methods

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM)—which enables the visualization of viruses, proteins, and other biological structures at the molecular level—is a critical tool used to advance biochemical knowledge. Now Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have extended cryo-EM’s impact further by developing a new computational algorithm that was instrumental in constructing a 3-D atomic-scale model of bacteriophage