Today at Berkeley Lab

Sierra Snowpack Could Drop Significantly by End of Century

A future warmer world will almost certainly feature a decline in fresh water from the Sierra Nevada mountain snowpack. Now a new study by Berkeley Lab that analyzed the headwater regions of California’s 10 major reservoirs, representing nearly half of the state’s surface storage, found on average a 79 percent drop in peak snowpack water volume by 2100. More>

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Topological Matters: Toward a New Kind of Transistor

An experiment conducted at Berkeley Lab has demonstrated, for the first time, electronic switching in an exotic, ultrathin material that can carry a charge with nearly zero loss at room temperature. Researchers demonstrated this switching when subjecting the material to a low-current electric field. More>

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Topping Off a Telescope with New Tools to Explore Dark Energy

Key components for the sky-mapping Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, weighing about 12 tons, were hoisted atop the Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, and bolted into place last week, marking a major project milestone. More>

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Imaging Technique Provides Nanoscale Insights Into Biological Molecules Behavior

Lab researchers, in collaboration with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Max Planck Institute, have demonstrated that fluctuation X-ray scattering is capable of capturing the behavior of biological systems in unprecedented detail. The team developed a novel mathematical and data analyses framework that was applied to data obtained from DOE’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC. More>

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Freeze-Frame Microscopy Captures Molecule’s ‘Lock-and-Load’ on DNA

Eva Nogales, faculty scientist in the Biosciences Area, led a team that captured freeze-frames of the changing shape of the huge macromolecular complex, transcription factor IID, as it locks onto DNA and loads the machinery for reading the genetic code. Scientists used cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) to obtain snapshots of this structure as it engages with DNA, scans the sequence, and recruits and rearranges the appropriate proteins. More>

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EESA Researchers Examine Greenhouse Gas Flux In Arctic Tundra

As part of the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment – Arctic (NGEE-Arctic) project, Earth and Environmental Sciences Area scientists are studying the effects of climate change on ecosystem processes. A team led by research scientist Bhavna Arora recently looked at how environmental factors such as soil temperature or snowmelt influence carbon dioxide and methane flux at a research site near Barrow, Alaska. More>

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Potential New Way to Boost Biofuels and Bioproducts Production

JBEI researchers have gained insight into the primary process by which all cells harness energy of E. coli bacteria and a species of yeast, each of which are common hosts for biofuels and bioproducts. Their findings suggest new ways by which the pathways to produce biofuels and bioproducts could be optimized to maintain proper respiratory function, thereby increasing production. More>

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JGI Discovers Giant Viruses in Forest Soils

Giant virus genomes have been discovered for the first time in a forest soil ecosystem by researchers from the Joint Genome Institute and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst using a “mini-metagenomics” approach. As the name implies, giant viruses are characterized by disproportionately large genomes and virions that house the viruses’ genetic material. More>

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Newly Characterized Toxin Gives Bacterium a Leg Up on the Competition

Bacteria deploy various biological mechanisms to fend off their competition — often other bacteria. Biosciences Area beamline scientist Marc Allaire worked with a team led by HHMI Investigator Joseph Mougous of the University of Washington to understand how a newly discovered toxin stands out from others in the battle for microbial domination. More>

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JGI Finds Symbiosis Is a Driver of Truffle Diversity

Truffles are generally considered a dining extravagance, but they also play an important role in soil ecosystem services. Truffles are the fruiting bodies of the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal symbionts, and the Joint Genome Institute was part of an international team that sought insights into the ECM lifestyle of truffle-forming species. As reported in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the team conducted a comparative analysis of eight fungi. More>

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