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June 5, 2020
Graphical representation of the determination of the cell wall ester content (O-acetyl ester/methyl ester) of leaves through observations of the atmospheric emission signature (acetic acid/methanol).
Breathing New Life into an Old Question: What Plants’ Emissions Tell Us about their Cell Walls
Detecting gaseous methanol and acetic acid released from plants sheds light on plant cell wall composition changes throughout leaf development.
May 7, 2020
The circles represent different groups of RNA viruses. The analysis is based on the sequence of RNA-dependent RNA polymerase transcripts found in California annual grassland soil. Known viruses are in pink and newly discovered viruses are in purple.
Soil Viruses: A Rich Reservoir of Diversity
Soils contain a large diversity of unknown RNA viruses that infect fungi and possibly plants and animals.
March 18, 2020
The MAGIC approach synthesizes DNA sequences for CRISPR-based gene activation (in orange), silencing (in blue), and elimination (in pink), then uses those sequences on yeasts to identify the genes required in different growth conditions.
A MAGIC Approach to Understanding the Genetic Basis of Complex Biological Functions
Comprehensive genome-wide search enables discovery of multi-gene determinants of traits in yeast.
January 30, 2020
This research used the presence / absence of particular proteins in each viral genome as input for a gene sharing network analysis. This approach helps classify the vast unknown majority of viruses discovered in each new study of nature.
A Viral Gold Rush
Scientists develop a new tool to find viruses in complex genomic data sets.
January 30, 2020
A designed coiled-coil heterodimer, with halves colored green and purple. A DNA double-helix (gold), for which particular sequences have the same property of forming specific pairs, is superimposed to show scale.
Breaking Through Computational Barriers to Create Designer Proteins
Using advanced computing, scientists designed protein pairs that perfectly complement each other.
December 20, 2019
Soil samples were taken at this field site in Prosser, WA. All soil samples were collected in three field replicates within a 0-to 20-cm depth from the ground. For each of the three field blocks, researchers collected three homogeneous replicates.
Simplifying Microbial Consortia Opens a Path to Understanding Soil Community Ecology
Representative communities of reduced complexity provide new experimental context for investigating how soil microbial communities function.
December 20, 2019
A new microbial network inference method reliably predicts interactions that depend on neighboring organisms.
Predicting How Microbial Neighbors Influence Each Other
A new computational method reliably predicts interactions that depend on neighboring organisms in an environment.
December 20, 2019
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Kansas State University found that soil drying significantly affected the structure and function of soil microbial communities.
Droughts Spell Changes for Soil Microbes
Researchers found that soil drying altered metabolic pathways within soil microbial communities.
October 9, 2019
Poplar cuttings inoculated with M. elongata strain PM193 (far right) grow larger in 30 percent forest soil / 70 percent sand than without PM193 (middle). On the left are controls grown in sterile sand. (Chih-Ming Hsu).
Fungus Fuels Tree Growth
Researchers start pinning down how a fungal symbiont spurs growth of poplar, a potential biofuel feedstock.
October 9, 2019
Model of the combination of factors that increase microbial diversity. Green arrows indicate higher diversity and red arrows indicate lower diversity with arrow thickness representing the strength of the effect.
Cultivating an Understanding of Microbial Diversity
Plant diversity, soil structure, and seasonality all influence microbial diversity in soil.
October 9, 2019
A research team from UC Berkeley found that hexokinase could act as a switch between photosynthesis and accumulation of bioproducts including lipids and antioxidants in algae.
Discovering an Internal Metabolic Switch in Algae
Discovering hexokinase as an algal regulator of lipids and high-value antioxidants will enable sustainable sources of biofuels and bioproducts.
September 18, 2019
Specialization for inorganic nitrogen metabolism. The outer ring shows a substantial fraction of incomplete pathways were found in genomes from each phylum. For most phyla, the average number of pathways per genome was about 1.9.
Microbes are Metabolic Specialists
Microbial Communities Matter in How Ecosystems Retain or Lose Nitrogen
September 10, 2019
The position of a charged monomer (blue dots) along a polymer chain impacts the final structures (structures 1, 3, and 5 from the sequence library) following assembly into micelles (bottom).
Location, Location, Location… How charge placement can control a self-assembled structure.
Location, Location, Location… How charge placement can control a self-assembled structure.
September 10, 2019
Electron microscopy of crack injection. Corrosion creates a nanoporous layer in the material (left) that propagates almost twice as far into the grain boundary as it does away from the boundary. The right image shows an injected crack.
Cracking in Harsh Environments Needs Stress and Corrosion, But Not at the Same Time
Redefining the mechanisms of stress corrosion cracking for materials in energy generation and industrial systems.
September 10, 2019
Contrary to previous theories, fungal spores-rather than sea salt-contribute the most to atmospheric sodium salt particles over the pristine Amazon basin, according to recent findings from an international team of scientists.
Where Does Salt in the Amazon Air Come From?
For the first time, an international team of scientists has discovered the true origin of sodium salt in pristine Amazon air.
September 10, 2019
Cells of the Gram-positive bacteria (a) and fungal enrichment culture (b) after cell disruption with an ultra-sonication bath for 10 minutes. With identical treatment, no intact cells were found in the Gram-negative bacterial enrichment culture (c).
Testing the Toughness of Microbial Cell Walls
Some cells stand firm against techniques to extract the biological material inside, while others don’t stand a chance.
September 10, 2019
Emerging poplar leaves in spring.
How Many Copies Does It Take to Change a Trait?
The number of copies of genes a poplar tree has influences its traits.
August 23, 2019
A faceted metal island of the rare-earth element dysprosium formed under a layer of graphite. The team deposited the metal at 577 degrees Celsius after they bombarded graphite with argon ions.
Getting Metal Under Graphite’s Skin
A new route to make metal beneath a layer of graphite opens potentially new applications in solar cells and quantum computing.
August 23, 2019
Microbial Merry-Go-Round.  In this metaphorical carousel, the velocity of each bacterial cell indicates its relative growth rate. New data indicate that this metaphor applies over a range of ecosystems, from high desert grassland to subalpine prairie.
Microbial Evolution: Nature Leads, Nurture Supports
Across ecosystems, microbial traits are preserved along lineages, much like in multicellular organisms, and can improve the development of soil models
June 24, 2019
Forests and microbes are symbiotically connected globally.
Trees Consider the Climate When Choosing Their Partners
Forest trees establish symbiotic relationships with microbes depending on how the climate determines the rate of soil organic matter decomposition.
June 14, 2019
Visualization shows circular plasmids (mobile genetic elements) from two ground water samples taken in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (sample F, blue; sample G; green). Using a newly devised method, researchers discovered more than 600 plasmids.
Microbes Retain Toxicity Tolerance After They Escape Toxic Elements
Ground water microbes living outside a contaminated area contain mobile genetic elements that provide them resistance to heavy metals.
June 6, 2019
In the North-Central Atlantic Ocean near the center of the simulation snapshot, a hurricane is visible as a dot of gray and from the cold water (green) it stirred up in the otherwise warm (red) Central Atlantic Ocean.
Watching the Rain in Climate Models
Scientists use supercomputers to determine how reliably a popular Earth system model represents precipitation regionally and globally.
June 6, 2019
To determine key behaviors in a self-healing material—a composite of cement and a polymer—for underground wells, researchers built a simulation that explained molecular-level interactions.
Simulations Shed Light on Self-Healing Cement
A first-of-its-kind computer simulation reveals self-healing cement for geothermal and oil and gas wells performs better than originally thought.
March 21, 2019
Foreground: microbial community under dry conditions (left) and microbial community under irrigated conditions (right).
Some Bacteria Make a Big Difference in Dryland Wheat Farming
Even a single species of bacteria can positively affect soils and plants, improving and even enabling agriculture in semi-arid areas.
March 14, 2019
A research team is advancing understanding of how microbial communities function in the wild, by studying rumen of live moose foraging in the field.
Sampling Guts of Live Moose to Understand How They Break Down Biomass
First-of-a-kind study advances understanding of microbial and viral communities involved in biomass breakdown.