starch granules photo

Seeing starch: Novel technique enables gentle observation of biofuel materials

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Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new method to peer deep into the nanostructure of biomaterials without damaging the sample. This novel technique can confirm structural features in starch, a carbohydrate important in biofuel production. 

Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis: Probing the human and soil microbiome for disease links

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After several years in the private sector exploring the unknown origins of neurodegenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Chris Ellis thinks one of the keys to solving the mystery is at Oak Ridge National Laboratory: the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

Ellis, a computational microbiologist in the Biosciences Division, is hoping to prove a theory that’s been getting more attention in the biomedical field—that microbes may play a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Emilie Sidelinger SULI Interview

ORISE | SULI Participant Interview with Emilie Sidelinger

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ORISE | SULI Participant Interview with Emilie Sidelinger

DNA wraps around histone proteins

Chromosome Connectors Take Center Stage for ORNL Scientists Studying Poplar

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The black cottonwood tree, or Populus trichocarpa (poplar), serves as a model organism for scientists studying the structure, growth, development, and genetics of plants. Poplar was the first tree genome scientists sequenced, and now they use it to study topics such as bioenergy, drought tolerance, and wood formation.

A new method uses E. coli to generate DNA with methylation patterns that target microbes recognize and accept as their own, facilitating customization of microbes for biofuels production.

ORNL develops method to customize microbes for better biofuel production

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Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a method to insert genes into a variety of microorganisms that previously would not accept foreign DNA, with the goal of creating custom microbes to break down plants for bioenergy.

Sprouted poplar

Video: How You Can Grow JGI's Poplar

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The poplar (Populus trichocarpa) was the first tree ever to have its genome sequenced. Now you can propagate the poplar yourself, find out how in a few easy steps.
CBI students explain their work in an elevator pitch session

Student Showcase Videos

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During the CBI Annual Science Meeting in July 2019, Students working in CBI were asked to prepare a three-minute “elevator” speech to describe their science and how it relates to the overall goals of CBI.  The following videos represent a subset of the participants in the competition.

Laccaria bicolor is fruiting above ground and colonizing the Populus deltoides plant root system below ground in a greenhouse setting. Credit: Jessy Labbe/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

ORNL scientists make fundamental discovery to creating better crops

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. July 22, 2019—A team of scientists led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered the specific gene that controls an important symbiotic relationship between plants and soil fungi, and successfully facilitated the symbiosis in a plant that typically resists it.

The discovery could lead to the development of bioenergy and food crops that can withstand harsh growing conditions, resist pathogens and pests, require less chemical fertilizer and produce larger and more plentiful plants per acre.

Credit: Carsten Külheim/Michigan Tech  Eucalyptus grows well in hot, dry regions and doesn’t need to be irrigated.

Eucalyptus Genes for Biofuel Production

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ORNL researcher David Kainer is working with scientists from Australia, Germany, and Michigan to isolate Eucalyptus genes for biofuel production. They are investigating the genetic basis of variation in oil yield (terpenes) in blue mallee, a eucalyptus native to Australia.

This visualization shows the genes (yellow squares) associated with callus formation in poplar. These genes have equivalents in humans that control the formation of tumors. The network of genes shown in red is expressed along with the callus-associated genes. The genes in blue are suppressed when the hub genes are active. Graphic courtesy of Dan Jacobson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Tree of life: Poplar studies yield human cancer insights

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While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.

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Tamara Rogers
Tamara Rogers
Communications