Ecosystems Biology Program

Living Large: Exploration of Diverse Bacteria Signals Big Advance for Gene Function Prediction

Romy Chakraborty in her research lab

This article was authored by Massie S. Ballon for the Joint Genome Institute. Ecology Department Head Romy Chakraborty participated in this research on behalf of EESA.   In the air, beneath the ocean’s surface, and on land, microbes are the minute but mighty forces regulating much of the planet’s biogeochemical cycles. To better understand their…

Read More

Plants Really Do Feed Their Friends

  Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley have discovered that as plants develop they craft their root microbiome, favoring microbes that consume very specific metabolites. Their study could help scientists identify ways to enhance the soil microbiome for improved carbon storage and plant productivity. “For more…

Read More

‘Magic Pools’ Approach Accelerates Study of Novel Bacteria

This article originally appeared on the website of the Biosciences Area at Berkeley Lab. Several of the diverse microbes used in the study described were isolated from nitrate-contaminated and pristine groundwater wells at Oak-Ridge Field Research Center by a team led by Romy Chakraborty, head of the Ecology Department within the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area…

Read More

EESA Research Shows Impact of Environmental Changes on Microbes in Arctic Soils

New Berkeley Lab research published in the journal Nature Communications Thursday explores the impact of a changing climate on Arctic ecosystems with permanently frozen soils. As the Arctic continues to warm at about twice the rate of the rest of the world, scientists expect these frozen soils known as permafrost to thaw, activating microbes capable…

Read More

Berkeley Lab Scientists Brief California Science Advisory Panel for Food and Agriculture

Crops in California's Central Valley

As two-thirds of the fruits and nuts—and over a third of the vegetables—produced in the United States are grown in California, it’s crucial that the Golden State cultivate healthy soils that are resilient to stresses such as climate change, drought, and groundwater overuse. Now scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area (EESA) and Biosciences Area are contributing to the effort by sharing their expertise with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)’s Science Advisory Panel, a group comprised of farmers, agriculture professionals, and experts in areas such as water, conservation, and resource management. Last week, EESA scientist Peter Nico hosted the panel at the Lab to brief them on research related to developing healthy soils, sustainable groundwater management strategies, and climate-adaptive agriculture.

Read More

SOS – Save Our Soils!

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is issuing a national Call to Action and forming an interagency group to protect America’s soil. Soil plays critical roles in food security, climate mitigation, ecosystem function, and buffering against extreme weather events. Although it is essential for the stability of the planet, soil is…

Read More

Coffee berry borer’s gut microbes detoxify caffeine

Caffeine Fiend - coffee berry borer

ESD’s Javier Ceja-Navarro (lead author) and Eoin Brodie, with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Mexico’s El College de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), discovered that coffee berry borers rely on bacteria in their guts to detoxify the massive amounts of caffeine they consume when they eat caffeine-rich coffee beans, their sole source of…

Read More