Research Focus

Below are the areas in which Berkeley Plant & Microbial Biology researchers have special expertise and focus :

Bioremediation

Innovative Perchlorate Research

Perchlorate was first identified as an environmental contaminant in the late 1900s and was added to the Environmental Protection Agency's Contaminant candidate list in 1998. To mediate its effects on the environment, bioremediation is a process where microorganisms are used to break down pollutants like perchlorate.

Perchlorate is a soluble anion that is naturally...

Fossil Fuel Microbiology

Improving Oil Recovery

Although the use of non-traditional energy sources such as biofuels, solar, and wind will increase substantially over the next two decades, predictions suggest that these will account for less than ten percent of total energy by 2030.

Reliance on fossil fuel energy will likely continue as the dominant source of transportation fuels...

Evolutionary Biology

flower

Evolutionary Biology is the field of biology that studies the processes that produced the diversity of life on earth. These processes include the origin of new species, the origin of novelty in form or function, and the types of selection that act at both the genotypic and phenotypic level to generate diversity.

At PMB we have...

Plant-Microbe Interactions

Plants defend themselves from attack by disease, but microbes can overcome existing plant defenses, so there is a continual arms race. Plants also need strategies to take advantage of beneficial microbes. Understanding how plants and microbes interact is key to maintaining or improving crop yields, an important area of research as the world population increases.

Drought

The duration and intensity of drought is increasing worldwide largely due to climate change. Faculty member Peggy Lemaux is leading a $12.3 million Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research-funded project to examine how the drought-tolerant cereal crop, sorghum, survives water loss. Lemaux and fellow PMB researchers John Taylor, Devin Coleman-Derr and John Vogel, are partnering with Elizabeth...

Epigenetics

Several of our principal investigators are leaders in the field of epigenetics, the study of stable changes in gene activities that alter how the organism looks, lives, behaves and survives.

Circadian Clock

Most organisms have an innate ability to measure time. For example, plants do not simply respond to sunrise but can anticipate the dawn and sunset and adjust their biology accordingly. This is the fascinating field of the Circadian Clock. Research over the past 30 years and the powerful approach of molecular genetics has elucidated the underpinings of the...

Plant Signaling

The term "Plant Signaling" encompasses the many ways that plant cells perceive their environment, as well as cell-cell signaling within the plant.

Sheng Luan studies how plants perceive and respond to extracellular signals by modifying their developmental and physiological programs. His lab has identified a new molecular network for calcium signal transduction in plants. Downstream of these early...

Phytoremediation

Environmental pollution is a major threat to our planet, and water supplies are particularly vulnerable.

Electric utilities, oil refineries, and chemical plants produce billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater each year. In agriculture, toxic levels of various elements pollute the groundwater as a result of excessive fertilizer application, including nitrates and phosphates, and...

Biomineralization

Many organisms, ranging from mammals to small single-celled algae, are capable of transforming inorganic atoms into elaborate three-dimensional minerals in a process commonly referred to as biomineralization. These biominerals are used as teeth, skeletons, protective shells and even navigational devices. Understanding biomineralization at a molecular level can also lead to novel applications that are informed by the special properties...

Pages