JBEI Hosts Antioch High School Students for Mock Interviews

Antioch High School juniors who are taking part in the Biotech Partners program, are getting ready for their interviews in order to get summer internships. JBEI’s operational staff was on hand this week to help the students practice their job application skills during mock interviews.

Biotech Partners is an independent non-profit organization since 1993 which aims to help youth from populations underrepresented in the sciences navigate the worlds of school, work and life through a biotechnology-focused curriculum, including job training and internships, which provides access to fulfilling well-paid careers in bioscience and increases opportunities for higher education.

Biotech Partners is currently still looking for mentors for the summer internships. For more information contact Irina Silva.

Crystallization Screen Created by JBEI Scientists Reaches the Market

X-ray crystallography has been the most successful technique used to solve macromolecular structures, contributing several thousand new entries to the Protein Data Bank (PDB) every year. The protein crystal is the critical starting point for X-ray data collection, and consequently, its properties are correlated with the quality of the data, in the form of electron density maps, and the level of detail that can be extracted for a macromolecular structure. However, proteins require solutions of specific composition to form crystals for structure determination studies. These specifications are usually determined from exposing the protein to several different solutions in a crystallization screen.

A team of JBEI researchers affiliated with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory led by José Henrique Pereira and Paul Adams published a paper describing a novel crystallization screen in the Journal of Applied Crystallography. Using statistical analysis of the Biological Macromolecule Crystallization Database, combined with previous knowledge about crystallization reagents, they created a crystallization screen called Berkeley Screen. Pereira and co-authors Ryan McAndrew and Giovani Tomaleri extensively used the set of 96 solutions present in the Berkeley Screen to crystallize target proteins from the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI). In addition, the Berkeley Screen was used to crystallize targets from the Collaborative Crystallography program led by Banumathi Sankaran at the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology.

Example of a protein crystal successfully grown from Berkeley Screen solution containing polyethylene glycols (PEGs), which have the highest occurrence in the formulation, and the resulting structure. The human TRiC Subunit CCT5 (PDB 5UYX) crystallized in the Solution H4 containing 0.1 M Sodium Acetate, 0.04 M Citric Acid, 0.06 M BIS-TRIS propane pH 6.4, 25 % PEG 400. Adapted Figure 1 of Journal of Applied Crystallography paper. (Credit: José Henrique Pereira)

The screen is available to everyone, having been published open source and with recipes for all 96 conditions. A few weeks after the paper was published, the researchers were contacted by a company that provides crystallography products expressing their interest in producing it for their customers. Now the Berkeley Screen is commercially available to the crystallography community. “To see the results from our research become a real commercial product is very rewarding,” said Tomaleri, a JBEI researcher. Pereira added, “Understanding the factors involved in crystallization is an essential step to selecting a good set of solutions. The Berkeley Screen has been a valuable protein crystallization screen providing crystals for several publications in the past few years. I am glad that it can now benefit the larger community.”

TEDx Talk by JBEI’s CSTO Blake Simmons Now Available

Blake Simmons, Chief Science and Technology Officer gave a talk at TEDxSonomaCounty on November 4, 2017 entitled “A World Without Limits through Biomanufacturing of Carbon”. The video of the talk is now available.

All in the Family: Focused Genomic Comparisons

In a study published ahead the week of January 8, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, and the DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), report the first results of a long-term plan to sequence, annotate and analyze the genomes of 300 Aspergillus fungi. These findings are a proof of concept of novel methods to functionally annotate genomes in order to more quickly identify genes of interest.

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JBEI Partners with LanzaTech in New DOE Technology Commercialization Fund Grant

LanzaTech is looking into new routes to capture carbon capture and biomanufacture new products. In order to accelerate development while at the same time reducing costs and increasing throughput, LanzaTech is partnering with Department of Energy (DOE) laboratories: Berkeley Lab; DOE Joint Genome Institute; Sandia National Laboratories (SNL); the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), and Oak Ridge National Lab to develop new foundational technologies that will open new frontiers in this space.

Under a Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) grant by the DOE, LanzaTech, with Berkeley Lab, SNL and JBEI are focusing on microfluidics, as a way to shrink the physical footprint of LanzaTech’s manufacturing facility, and reducing the cost and time needed to test the outcome of each experiment.

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Berkeley Lab researchers demonstrate importance of microbial communities for enzyme stability, Biofuels Digest

Biofuels Digest covered the JBEI recent study demonstrates the importance of microbial communities as a source of stable enzymes that could be used to convert plants to biofuels.

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

A new study led by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), demonstrates the importance of microbial communities as a source of stable enzymes that could be used to convert plants to biofuels. The study, recently published in the journal Nature Microbiology, reports on the discovery of new types of cellulases, enzymes that help break down plants into ingredients that can be used to make biofuels and bioproducts. The cellulases were cultured from a microbiome. Using a microbial community veers from the approach typically taken of using isolated organisms to obtain enzymes.

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Study speeds transformation of biofuel waste into useful chemicals, Phys.org

JBEI’s Feedstocks Division collaborated with Sandia National Laboratories in a study that looked into efficient ways to turn discarded plant matter into chemicals.

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Genome Research Challenges Previous Understanding of the Origin of Photosynthesis

Patrick Shih, JBEI Post-Doctoral Researcher and the study's co-first author. Photo credit: Majed Abolfazli Patrick Shih, a postdoctoral researcher at JBEI, collaborated with Caltech scientists, to reconstruct the evolutionary history of photosynthesis to provide new insight into the yet-unfolding story of its origins. The recent study titled, “Evolution of the 3-hydroxypropionate bicycle and recent transfer of anoxygenic photosynthesis into the Chloroflexi.” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more in the Berkeley Lab News Center.