Public Release: 17-Aug-2016
Nature Unveiled: Earth's viral diversity
Plumbing the Earth's microbial diversity requires learning more about the poorly-studied relationships between microbes and the viruses that infect them, impacting their abilities to regulate global cycles. DOE JGI researchers utilized the largest collection of assembled metagenomic datasets to uncover over 125,000 partial and complete viral genomes. This single effort increases the number of known viral genes by a factor of 16, and provides researchers with a unique resource of viral sequence information.
US Department of Energy
Public Release: 15-Aug-2016
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Expanding the stable of workhorse yeasts
Yeasts are physically hard to distinguish, and it is easy to think they are all the same. Metabolically, genetically and biochemically, however, yeasts are highly diverse. So far industry has only harnessed a fraction of the diversity available for biotechnological applications, including biofuel production. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by DOE Joint Genome Institute researchers aims to help boost the use of a wider range of yeasts.
US Department of Energy
Public Release: 3-Aug-2016 Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, August 2016
ORNL's PenDoc combines mass spectrometry with direct sampling to identify materials in seconds; ORNL study providing watershed-scale understanding of mercury in soils and sediments; Salt, ammonia key ingredients of high-efficiency heating system; ORNL taking closer look at microscopic soot particles, advanced combustion engines; Steel-concrete storage vessel may be ticket to clearing path for hydrogen-powered vehicles; Study examines climate change, power demands; ORNL gains better understanding of how defects in complex oxides alter behavior.
Public Release: 29-Jul-2016
mSystems Teasing out the microbiome of the Kansas prairie
PNNL scientists have untangled a soil metagenome -- all the genetic material recovered from a sample of soil -- more fully than ever before, reconstructing portions of the genomes of 129 species of microbes. While it's only a tiny proportion of the estimated 100,000 species in the sample, it's a leap forward for scientists who have had only a fraction of that success to date.
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Public Release: 27-Jul-2016
mBio When the going gets tough, the tough get growing
While relentless bright light brings many forms of cyanobacteria to their knees -- figuratively, of course -- Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 does the opposite, thriving and growing at a rate that far outpaces most of its peers. Now researchers know why: it triples in size to accommodate a rapid expansion of the cellular machinery it uses to build proteins.
US Department of Energy
Public Release: 19-Jul-2016
PLOS ONE Comparing fungal secretions to uncover carbon compound degradation pathways
Fungal secretomes, those collections of all molecules secreted by a cell, contain enzymes that can break down plant cell wall components, useful to bioenergy researchers looking to cost-effectively convert plant mass into sustainable, alternative transportation fuels. In a study published July 19, 2016, in PLOS ONE, a comparative analysis of four fungal secretomes revealed more about the variety of pathways they deploy to break down carbon compounds.
DOE/Office of Science
Public Release: 18-Jul-2016
Applied and Environmental Microbiology New ORNL tool probes for genes linked to toxic methylmercury
Environmental scientists can more efficiently detect genes required to convert mercury in the environment into more toxic methylmercury with molecular probes developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Public Release: 7-Jul-2016 New Mexico African-American Affairs office honors 2 from Sandia
Two Sandia National Laboratories employees have been named recipients of 2016 Outstanding Service Awards from the New Mexico Office of African-American Affairs.
Research engineer Conrad James and Theresa A. Carson, a senior manager in Sandia's Supply Chain Management Center, were recognized for their strong commitment to improving the quality of life for African-Americans in the community. The 13th annual service awards recognize dedication to education, community development, health care advocacy and economic advancement for African-Americans.
Public Release: 28-Jun-2016
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences See and sort: Developing novel techniques to visualize uncultured microbial cell activity
In a study published online the week of June 27, 2016 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Caltech and DOE Joint Genome Institute researchers utilized a recently refined technique to identify both individual active cells, and single clusters of active bacteria and archaea within microbial communities. The DOE is interested in learning how the planet's 'microbial dark matter' can be harnessed for energy and environmental challenges.
NSF/Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Austrian Science Fund, DOE/Office of Science
Public Release: 16-Jun-2016
Journal of Virology Sandia researchers discover mechanism for Rift Valley fever virus infection
Viruses can't live without us -- literally. As obligate parasites, viruses need a host cell to survive. Scientists are exploiting this characteristic by developing therapeutics that close off pathways necessary for viral infection, essentially stopping pathogens in their tracks.
Rift Valley fever virus and other bunyaviruses may soon be added to the list of viruses denied access to a human host. Sandia National Laboratories researchers have discovered a mechanism by which RVFV hijacks the host machinery to cause infection.
Public Release: 31-May-2016 Better combustion for power generation
As US utility companies replace coal-fired power plants with natural gas, a collaboration between GE and Oak Ridge National Laboratory is contributing to efficiency gains in GE's H-class gas turbines. GE researchers produced the first simulation involving multiple gas turbine combustors to study combustion interactions that are impractical to test physically. Advanced simulation is projected to results in a full percentage-point gain in turbine efficiency.
Public Release: 27-May-2016
Nature Microbiology PNNL helps lead national microbiome initiative
Scientists Janet Jansson and Ljiljana Paša-Toli are part of a core group of scientists leading a national effort to understand communities of microorganisms and their role in climate science, food production and human health.
Public Release: 26-May-2016
Current Biology Cuing environmental responses in fungi
Sensory perception lies at the heart of adaptation to changing conditions, and helps fungi to improve growth and recycle organic waste, and to know when and how to infect a plant or animal host. New results from a team led by DOE Joint Genome Institute researchers based on characterizing and then conducting a comparative analysis of two genome sequences published in Current Biology shed new light on the evolution of sensory perception in fungi.
DOE/Office of Science
Public Release: 23-May-2016
Trends in Microbiology A rallying call for microbiome science national data management
In a paper published online May 16, 2016, in Trends in Microbiology, researchers from the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute call for the formation of a National Microbiome Data Center to efficiently manage the datasets accumulated globally. By integrating and harnessing all available microbiome data and metadata, researchers could conduct larger-scale comparative analyses in order to address global challenges related to energy, environment, health and agriculture.
US Department of Energy
Public Release: 20-May-2016
Science Chemists settle longstanding debate on how methane is made biologically
Like the poet, microbes that make methane are taking chemists on a road less traveled: Of two competing ideas for how microbes make the main component of natural gas, the winning chemical reaction involves a molecule less favored by previous research, something called a methyl radical. Reported today in the journal Science, the work is important for understanding not only how methane is made, but also how to make things from it.
Department of Energy
Public Release: 11-May-2016
Physics Review Letters Scientists take a major leap toward a 'perfect' quantum metamaterial
Scientists have devised a way to build a 'quantum metamaterial' -- an engineered material with exotic properties not found in nature -- using ultracold atoms trapped in an artificial crystal composed of light. The theoretical work represents a step toward manipulating atoms to transmit information, perform complex simulations or function as powerful sensors.
Public Release: 10-May-2016 These space rocks could save the planet
The planetary defense team at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory -- part of an international collaboration to detect and deflect the next large Earth-bound object -- is preparing meteorites received from NASA to be vaporized by a high-powered laser. The data they yield will inform asteroid deflection models.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.