PMB News Center

John D. Coates' Solution to Provide Oxygen on Mars

coates in lab

NASA goal to send humans to the red planet

By Kevin Schultz Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle

Having discovered flowing, liquid water on the once-imagined arid surface of Mars, NASA scientists are looking to the next missing element needed for human habitability on the Red Planet: oxygen.

Finding a way to produce oxygen on the planet is vital if the space agency is to fulfill its goal of sending humans to Mars sometime during the 2030s, they say.

Read the article at the San Francisco Chronicle (subscription may be...

Our New Web Site

Should you have any feedback about the new site (launched 1.1.16) please do not hesitate to get in touch:

Karyn Houston | Webmaster Plant & Microbial Biology University of California, Berkeley 510.643.7614

Important Links

Here are some links to get you started: - deadlines for both graduate and undergraduate programs

Rachel Brem: Understanding Evolutionary Genetics

Unraveling the mystery of ancient traits

Think about the living things you see on a walk through the forest, the zoo, or even a research laboratory. Since Darwin, evolutionary biologists have been fascinated by how different organisms are from one another.

The ultimate goal is to understand how mutations in the DNA, deep inside cells, shape the behavior of the animals, plants, and microbes around us. Standard research tools in the field are now available to study the genetics of closely related individuals, like the variation in lactose intolerance among humans. But understanding differences...

Glaunsinger Lab Investigates Cell Early Warning System

What is the role of “jumping genes”?

Less than 2% of our genome is made up of sequences that produce proteins important for cell function, so what is the role of the remaining 98%?

Nearly half of the mammalian genome is composed of transposable elements, also known as “jumping genes” that can copy themselves and move around the genome, in a potentially damaging manner for the cell. For this reason, our cells have found ways to keep these seemingly parasitic sequences turned off—at least most of the time. However, a subset of these elements...

Rocio Sanchez Recognized for Outstanding Work

Excellence in advising

Rocío Sanchez, graduate academic and student advisor for the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology, has received an award for “excellence in advising” after being nominated by graduate students in the department.

Graduate Student Christopher Hann-Soden said he is part of the group that nominated Rocío for the award because, “she is engaged with the department, is highly knowledgeable, has a compassionate ear and is devoted to us students.”

Working as an advisor, Sanchez's philosophy is “to support and foster an inclusive community where graduate students can thrive in their research,...

William Laetsch Named to Prestigious Group

American Association for the Advancement of Science

By Sarah Yang

Three UC Berkeley faculty members, including a PMB emeritus professor, are among 347 new fellows named to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on November 23, 2015.

Election as a AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers in recognition of their achievements in advancing science or its applications.

The new UC Berkeley members are:

  • Watson “Mac” Laetsch, professor emeritus of plant and microbial biology, who was cited for his distinguished contributions
  • ...

Chelsea Specht: People Behind the Science

specht and lab members analyzing plants

Fascinating podcast on a learning and research journey

Listen to the podcast:

Associate Professor Chelsea Specht recently completed a wide-ranging interview with the popular podcast series "People Behind the Science."

In the October 2015 podcast she talks about the development of her research interests and how she followed the path that ultimately led to the work she is doing today.

In addition to being Associate Professor and Organismal Biologist in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, Specht is also Associate Professor in Integrative Biology at UC...

Fungal Spore Bank Regenerates Forests

Illuminating data from Rim Fire

By Karyn Houston Plant & Microbial Biology

An extensive study by a UC Berkeley graduate student has found that a rich, fungal spore bank under the devastating Rim Fire two years ago remained intact and sparked the rebirth of new plants, trees and seedlings.

Spore bank fungi are adapted to disturbances to serve as partners for regenerating trees; there were even some fire-adapted fungi that increased in abundance following the blaze.

Sydney Glassman closely studied the Rim Fire of 2013, one of the most devastating blazes in California's history....

Cinzia Formighieri Receives Award

Improving a cyanobacteria-based photosynthetic platform

Cinzia Formighieri, a postdoc in the Melis lab, received a research award for her poster at the International Conference on "Photosynthesis Research for Sustainability."

The conference took place in Kolympari, Crete, Greece, from September 21 through 26, 2015. The award recognizes her work of “improving a cyanobacteria-based photosynthetic platform for the heterologous production of fuel and chemicals – products that will find industrial and domestic applications.”

Photosynthesis is the biochemical process of utilizing sunlight to produce sugar. Though commonly known for being performed by plants, organisms such...

Harvey Jackson: Service to Campus, Community, Family and Military

Funeral set for 11 am Thursday, 10.22.15, Ollie Grove Baptist Church, Berkeley

By Harini Shyamsundar Daily Cal

Harvey Jackson, a longtime employee of Plant & Microbial Biology and later a campus building manager in the College of Natural Resources, died Oct. 11, 2015, in a car accident near the Port of Oakland. He was 57 years old.

Jackson worked on campus for more than 22 years, according to his sister, Mabel Jackson. He was well-respected and appreciated by his coworkers.

“He enjoyed interacting with people,” said Tony Gamez, also a member...