Biological and Environmental Research

The Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program supports scientific research and facilities to achieve a predictive understanding of complex biological, earth, and environmental systems with the aim of advancing the nation’s energy and infrastructure security. The program seeks to discover the underlying biology of plants and microbes as they respond to and modify their environments. This knowledge enables the reengineering of microbes and plants for energy and other applications. BER research also advances understanding of the dynamic processes needed to model the Earth system, including atmospheric, land masses, ocean, sea ice, and subsurface processes.

Over the last three decades, BER has transformed biological and Earth system science. We helped map the human genome and lay the foundation for modern biotechnology. We pioneered the initial research on atmospheric and ocean circulation that eventually led to climate and Earth system models. In the last decade, BER research has made considerable advances in biology underpinning the production of biofuels and bioproducts from renewable biomass, spearheaded progress in genome sequencing and genomic science, and strengthened the predictive capabilities of ecosystem and global scale models using the world’s fastest computers.

BER supports three DOE Office of Science user facilities, the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) user facility, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), and Joint Genome Institute (JGI). These facilities house unique world-class scientific instruments and capabilities that are available to the entire research community on a competitive, peer review basis. Additionally, four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers were established to pursue innovative early-stage research on bio-based products, clean energy, and next-generation bioenergy technologies.

Learn more about the BER mission and how we support it here.

BER Science Highlights

Young Permafrost Provides New Insights on Climate Change
October 15, 2020
New approaches shed light on arctic soil microbes and their potential to release greenhouse gases when permafrost thaws.
Learn More
Optimizing Plant Defense against Pathogens
October 15, 2020
Elucidating the plant’s ability to tweak its defense response to specific pathogens.
Learn More
The Traits of Microbes Matter in Microbial Carbon Cycling and Storage
August 19, 2020
Research identifies microbiome traits that might be harnessed to improve global carbon models and or help increase carbon storage in soil.
Learn More
Digging into the Roots of Phosphorus Availability
August 4, 2020
New root blotting technique visualizes relationship between root growth, microbial activity, and soil nutrients.
Learn More
Stronger Membranes Help Yeast Tolerate Bioenergy Production Chemicals
July 23, 2020
Incorporating sterols in the outer membrane of Yarrowia lipolytica makes it significantly more tolerant of ionic liquids.
Learn More
New Technique Helps Solve a Long-Standing Obstacle for Microbial Genetic Engineering
July 17, 2020
SEER, a new method to rapidly search for proteins involved in rearranging DNA molecules, increases genome editing efficiency.
Learn More
Cooperative Microorganisms Get Competitive
July 15, 2020
Environmental factors can change interactions among microorganism communities.
Learn More
Breathing New Life into an Old Question: What Plants’ Emissions Tell Us about their Cell Walls
June 5, 2020
Detecting gaseous methanol and acetic acid released from plants sheds light on plant cell wall composition changes throughout leaf development.
Learn More
Soil Viruses: A Rich Reservoir of Diversity
May 7, 2020
Soils contain a large diversity of unknown RNA viruses that infect fungi and possibly plants and animals.
Learn More
A MAGIC Approach to Understanding the Genetic Basis of Complex Biological Functions
March 18, 2020
Comprehensive genome-wide search enables discovery of multi-gene determinants of traits in yeast.
Learn More

BER Program News

DOE to Provide $14.6 Million for New Atmospheric Studies
Research Aims at Improving Accuracy of Earth System Models
Learn More
Department of Energy to Provide $68 Million for Bioenergy Crop Research
Studies Will Focus on Improving Crop Productivity and Resilience
Learn More
Department of Energy Announces $7 Million for Earth System Model Development and Analysis
Efforts Aim to Improve DOE’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model
Learn More
DOE Awards $5 Million for Computational Biology Research
Goal is New Software and Approaches for Managing Biology Data
Learn More
Department of Energy Announces $19 Million for New Atmospheric Research
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $19 million in funding for 31 new projects in atmospheric sciences.
Learn More
Department of Energy Announces $6 Million for Environmental System Science Research
Projects Aim to Improve the Understanding of Watersheds, Wetlands, and Other Terrestrial Environments
Learn More
DOE to Provide $10 Million for New Research into Ecosystem Processes
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a plan to provide $10 million for new observational and experimental studies.
Learn More
Department of Energy Announces $64 Million for Research on Plants and Microbes
Genomics-based research will help develop crops for bioenergy.
Learn More
Department of Energy Announces $3 Million for Research on Watersheds
Funding totals $3 million in Fiscal Year 2019 dollars for projects lasting three years in duration.
Learn More
Berkeley Lab Celebrates the Integrative Genomics Building
The building will be a step forward in Berkeley Lab’s vision to expand the footprint of the biological and environmental sciences on the main campus.
Learn More
Yield Stability Analysis Reveals Sources of Large-scale Nitrogen Loss from the US Midwest
Matching fertilizer rates to field production levels could reduce nitrogen loss with no impact on crop yield.
Learn More

BER Subprograms

Biological Systems Science

Biological Systems Science

Research to understand complex interactions that determine the function of biological systems, from single cells to plants.

Learn More

Earth and Environmental System Sciences

Earth and Environmental System Sciences

Research on atmosphere, land, and water components and interactions that help inform regional and global earth system modeling.

Learn More

DOE Bioenergy Research Centers

DOE Bioenergy Research Centers

Supports fundamental research addressing the challenge of converting renewable plant biomass (non-food) to biofuels and bioproducts.

Learn More

BER DOE Office of Science User Facilities

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM)

Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM)

Observation network for understanding cloud and aerosol interactions with the Earth’s surface.

Learn More

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Houses more than 50 premier instruments and modeling resources that can be accessed to understand the physical, chemical, and cellular processes of biological and environmental systems.

Learn More

Joint Genome Institute

Joint Genome Institute

Provides the research community with high throughput DNA sequencing, synthesis and analysis of plants, microorganisms and microbiomes in support of BER biological systems science research.

Learn More

 

Contact Information

Biological and Environmental Research
U.S. Department of Energy
SC-23/Germantown Building
1000 Independence Avenue., SW
Washington, DC 20585
P: (301) 903 - 3251
F: (301) 903 - 5051
E: Email Us