U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Environmental Research

The Pan-Omics research efforts at PNNL is proudly sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental and other sponsors. These efforts include applications in microbial community dynamics, bioenergy, mesoscale imaging of complex natural biologically relevant systems, etc. We benefit from close ties with the Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory to allow for dissemination and collaboration on new technologies and methods to provide collaborators and use access to cutting edge technologies including new mass spectrometry capabilities, protein directed activity-based probe development, new informatics tools, and metabolomics libraries for new separations couple-mass spectrometry platforms.

Carbon Cycling

Autotrophy and heterotrophy are fundamental biological processes occurring within terrestrial ecosystems, which facilitate the exchange, transformation, and storage of carbon. A detailed understanding of the relationship between these processes is important for improving the accuracy of predictive climate models. The interactions microorganisms have with: 1) plant roots and root exudates, 2) detritus, and 3) soil organic matter are being investigated to better resolve mechanisms responsible for carbon partitioning. Influencing these interactions are climatic factors (temperature, precipitation, etc.), soil edaphic factors (soil moisture, texture, etc.), and ecological factors (diversity, redundancy, stability, etc.). PNNL’s unique mass spectrometry capabilities in association with advanced experimental techniques, such as stable isotope probing, are playing a central role in measuring the response of terrestrial ecosystems to these factors.

Environmental Remediation

The protection and clean up of soil, sediment, and groundwater environments remains a focus of research activity involving multiple omics capabilities. Of particular interest is the role anaerobic bacteria play in the reduction of heavy metal contaminants such as Uranium and Chromium. Project objectives seek to improve our understanding of the interactions anaerobic organisms have with these contaminants, and to use this knowledge to aid in site-monitoring and management via informative biomarkers. Research is utilizing a wide range of proteomic and biochemical assays including both peptide centric and intact protein approaches. Results are aiding in the discovery of biochemical function through prioritization of protein targets for heterologous expression, then characterization of these purified targets by a wide range of biochemical tests - thereby focusing mass spectrometry resources on the identification of functionality of enzymes relevant to remediation practices.

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