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The Ecology Department of The Earth Sciences Division at LBNL intends to maintain the highest quality and highest visibility for its research and development in seven R&D areas that are largely integrated, but contain some domains that are not inclusive.
Ecology Department scientists have applied diverse expertise to studies of the metabolic functioning of bacteria and archaea that mediate processes of environmental relevance, such as (a) aquifer bioremediation of metals and organic contaminants and (b) biogeochemical cycling of carbon and other elements. Department scientists have the expertise to perform field and laboratory studies of complex microbial communities to determine the molecular basis of major biogeochemical processes. We have particular expertise in soil microbiology, the human microbiome, and anaerobic bacterial physicology and metabolism. Ecology Department personnel are involved in several national and international initiatives to sequence system metagenomes, including the international Terragenome consortium, the human microbiome, and the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment Arctic community sequencing effort.
Ecology Department scientists are experts at developing biological technologies that are used for energy, environmental, and health applications. Our personnel hold key positions in a wide range of biofuel-related projects, which include discovery of fuel-related biosynthetic enzymes and heterologous expression or re-engineering of fuel-related metabolic pathways in bacteria (including cyanobacteria), algae, and plants. The R&D 100 award-winning PhyloChip is an example of an ESD-developed technology that has been used to quantify key microbial interactions in climate-altered soil communities, identify thermophilic composting processes for increased energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gases, and control pathogens in surface waters.
Ecology Department scientists are developing sustainable technologies for rapid screening of water management, sanitation, and tuberculosis to serve the global poor. Department hydroecological engineers are experts at decision-support systems, deployment of real-time flow and water-quality sensors, and mathematical models to develop an early warning system for salinity and contaminant management.