The Environment Sensing and Response (ESR) Scientific Focus Area (SFA) at ANL seeks to identify the molecular basis of cellular transport and sensory pathways that mediate the response of terrestrial ecosystems to environmental nutrients. The mechanistic links between and within ecosystems comprised of plants, fungi, and soil bacteria involved in the production of biomass for fuel are currently very poorly defined. The effects of nutrient availability, closely linked to climate, on those mechanistic links, are also inadequately understood. The ESR SFA will address this knowledge gap by mapping transport and sensor proteins to specific environmental compounds to define their function and biological roles and establish a series of defined connections between the environment and the cell. This knowledge will facilitate the development of system-level models predictive of cellular response to changes in environmental conditions. In addition, the molecular function information derived from these studies will enable synthetic biology approaches that modulate the system response by manipulating components of transporter or proteins containing sensor domains. A key component of the proposal is the re-engineering of specific transport proteins or complexes to modify the system response to phosphorous, nitrogen, or carbon sources in a predictable manner. The increased knowledge of function, regulation, and system response will support the Genomic Sciences Program goal of achieving a genome-based, dynamic systems-level understanding of organism and community functions.
SFA Research Manager: Robin Graham1
SFA Research Coordinator: Frank Collart1
SFA Task Leaders: Philip D. Laible1, Peter Larsen1, Lisa M. Miller2, Leland Cseke3
Participating Institutions: 1Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne IL 60439; 2Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton NY 11973; 3University of Alabama, Huntsville AL 35899
Collaborations: DOE Systems Biology KnowledgeBase (KBase); DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI); DOE Environmental and Molecular Science Laboratory (EMSL)