Earth’s Microbial Engines



The Grand Challenge

Accurately predict how microbes impact terrestrial ecosystem function, and enable translational ecology approaches that integrate fundamental discovery and multi-scale sensing and simulation capabilities into solutions for enhancing ecosystem function and health.

Why Berkeley Lab?

Berkeley Lab researchers are at the forefront of fundamental advances to discover, measure, and simulate how microbial communities interact across trophic levels and with the environment. These discoveries reveal how microbes catalyze key biogeochemical processes, and are, in effect, the engines sustaining Earth’s biomes. From single microbial genomes to entire ecosystems, we study ecosystem function and resilience using interdisciplinary science that ranges from microbial biology and soil science, to geophysics, remote sensing, and ecosystem ecology.

Four Strategic Research Objectives

  1. Advance the fundamental understanding of microbial metabolic potential and coupled ecological and biogeochemical processes from bedrock to canopy
  2. Develop multi-scale capabilities to accurately sense and simulate biological-environmental feedbacks
  3. Document the impact of global change and other perturbations on microbial processes in soil and subsurface systems and the resulting impacts on ecosystem function
  4. Translate ecological understanding into predictable solutions for environmental challenges

Selected Projects and EESA Programs

Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared
Structural Biology
(BSISB) Program
Bioenergy (EESA Program)
Bioenergy Biology Projects (JBEI, LLNL Biofuels SFA, EBI)
Biological Feedbacks Scientific Focus Area
Belowground Carbon Cycling Scientific Focus Area
Ecosystems Biology (EESA Program)
Ecosystems and Networks Integrated with Genes and Molecular Assemblies (ENIGMA)
Environmental Remediation and Water Resources (EESA Program)
Interoperable Design of Extreme-scale Application Software (IDEAS)
Marin Carbon Project
Microbes-to-Biomes (M2B) LDRD
Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments NGEE-Tropics & NGEE-Arctic
Research for Sustainable Bioenergy
Systems Biology of Carbon Cycling
Terrestrial Ecosystem Science (EESA Program)
Tomographic Electrical Rhizosphere Imaging (TERI)
UC Consortium for Drought and Carbon Management (UC DroCaM)
Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area

Go back to the beginning of our Strategic Vision 2025