Science Focus Area: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
- Principal Investigator: Rhona Stuart1
- Co-Investigators: Xavier Mayali1, Ali Navid1, Erin Nuccio1, Jennifer Pett-Ridge1, Peter Weber1, Jeff Kimbrel1, Patrik D’Haeseleer1, Ty Samo1, Steven Blazewicz1, Eoin Brodie2, Trent Northen2, Todd Lane3, Sabeeha Merchant4, Christine Hawkes5, Cullen Buie6, Rene Boiteau7, Mary Kraft8
- Participating Institutions: 1Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 2Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 3Sandia National Laboratories, 4University of California–Berkeley, 5North Carolina State University, 6Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 7Oregon State University, 8University of Illinois
- Project Website: bio-sfa.llnl.gov
- KBase Collaboration: Tools and functionality to support a systems biology approach to understanding interactions in bioenergy-relevant microbial communities
Development of sustainable energy sources is one of the critical challenges for the 21st century. Photosynthetic algal and plant systems have the unrivaled advantage of converting solar energy and carbon dioxide into useful organic molecules. Their growth and efficiency are largely shaped and assisted by the microbial communities that dwell in and around them and live off their products. The µBiospheres Science Focus Area (SFA) seeks to understand phototroph-heterotroph interactions that shape productivity, robustness, the balance of resource fluxes (carbon, nutrients, water), and the functionality of the surrounding microbiome. While these interactions occur at microscale interfaces, they are rarely measured at micron scales. The SFA’s approach encompasses single-cell analyses, quantitative isotope tracing of elemental exchanges, system-scale omics measurements, and multiscale modeling to address this gap. In two bioenergy systems (algae and C4 grasses), research addresses the following three themes: (1) resource economy and context-dependency of interactions, (2) selective mechanisms regulating microbial interactions, and (3) new capability development at the single-cell level and modeling tools that advance a predictive framework. The SFA’s ultimate goal is to discover crosscutting principles that regulate formation and maintenance of phototroph-microbial interactions and their system-level resource allocation consequences to develop a general predictive framework for system-level impacts of microbial partnerships. This research supports the Genomic Science Program’s objectives by studying complex interactions that contribute to bioenergy production and natural community function at molecular, genomic, and organismal levels.