Today at Berkeley Lab

Research Becomes Reality in Study of Fire Impact on Sonoma’s Water

Susan Hubbard, ALD of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, has spent a decade studying Sonoma County’s riverbank infiltration system. She and Michelle Newcomer (EESA) were turning their attention to investigating how extreme events, such as storms and wildfires, affect the groundwater, when disaster struck last month. Now their research has become even more critical. More>

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Detailed View of Immune Proteins Could Aid New Pathogen-Defense Strategies

Berkeley Lab biologists have resolved the structure of a ring of proteins used by the immune system for support when under attack, providing new insight into potential strategies for protection from pathogens. The researchers captured a high-resolution image of a protein ring as it was bound to flagellin, a protein from the tail used by bacteria to propel themselves forward. More>

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Explaining the Size, Pathogenicity of Humongous Fungus

As part of an international team, researchers at the Joint Genome Institute helped sequence and analyze the genomes of four fungi of the genus Armillaria, which are capable of breaking down all the components of a host plant’s cell walls. This could be of potential interest to researchers looking for methods to convert plant biomass into alternative fuels or other bioproducts. More>

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X-Rays Reveal the Biting Truth About Parrotfish Teeth

A new study has revealed a chain mail-like woven microstructure that gives parrotfish teeth their remarkable ability to chomp on coral all day long – the structure could serve as a blueprint for designing ultra-durable synthetic materials. More>

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Exploring the Roots of Photosynthesis in a Soil-Dwelling Bacterium

Heliobacterium modesticaldum — a sun-loving, soil-dwelling, thermophilic bacterium — is thought to have a photosynthetic reaction center resembling the earliest common ancestor of all photosynthesis complexes. Researchers used X-ray crystallography at the Advanced Light Source to help understand its structure and role in the evolution of photosynthesis. More>

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Study Looks at Seawater Chemistry and Ocean-to-Earth Element Exchange

New research from scientists with the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area and UC Berkeley indicates that changes in the composition of seawater during the past 500 million years may have previously unrecognized effects on the composition of hydrothermal fluids flowing back into the oceans throughout millions of years. More>

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A Cellphone-Based Microscope for Treating River Blindness

A smartphone-based microscope technology developed by Lab researcher Daniel Fletcher has been used to help treat river blindness, a debilitating disease caused by parasitic worms. The technology, called LoaScope, uses video from a smartphone-connected microscope to automatically detect and quantify infection by parasitic worms in a drop of blood. More>

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To Find New Biofuel Enzymes, It Can Take a Microbial Village

In search of new plant enzymes? Try looking in compost. Researchers at JBEI have demonstrated the importance of microbial communities as a source of stable enzymes that could be used to convert plants to biofuels. This approach yields robust enzymes that researchers can’t easily obtain from isolates. More>

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X-Rays Detail Effects of Temperature, Moisture on Fuel Cell Performance

To find the right balance of moisture and temperature in a specialized type of hydrogen fuel cell, Lab scientists have used X-rays to explore the inner workings of its components at tiny scales. If internal conditions are too dry or too wet, fuel cells won’t function well. More>

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Search for Dark Photon Narrowed Using Decade-Old Particle Collider Data

A fresh analysis of particle-collider data, co-led by Berkeley Lab physicists, limits some of the hiding places for one type of theorized particle — the dark photon, also known as the heavy photon — that was proposed to help explain the mystery of dark matter. More>

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