One of the iconic species of the northern California coastline is the redwood tree. The majestic trees are dependent upon another feature emblematic of the area—fog. Plant ecologist Todd Dawson describes how redwoods utilize this seasonal water source and how drought and climate change are impacting these old-growth forests.
The new $600 million Chan Zuckerberg Biohub will bring together research powerhouses UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and Stanford University in a medical science research center headquartered near UCSF's Mission Bay campus. It will provide flexible laboratory space, the latest technological tools, and funding for high impact exploratory projects.
Daniel Zilberman is one of 84 Faculty Scholars appointed today by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as part of their new Faculty Scholars Program.
The awards recognize early-career scientists who have great potential to make unique contributions to their field. Zilberman, an associate professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, investigates how epigenetic regulation of gene expression functions and evolves. His work with diverse, distantly related species aims to elucidate the evolutionary history of eukaryotic DNA methylation, understand how methylation patterns are faithfully inherited across generations, and determine the influence of such epigenetic inheritance on the agricultural characteristics of crops
Two other UC Berkeley professors, Diana Bautista and Lin He of the Department of Molecular & Cell Biology, were also appointed today.
This is the first collaboration between HHMI, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The philanthropies joined forces to create this program in response to growing concern about the significant challenges that early-career scientists are facing.
“This program will provide these scientists with much needed flexible resources so they can follow their best research ideas,” said HHMI Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer David Clapham.
Visit the HHMI website for more information about the program and the new scholars.
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In a study published this week in Nature Climate Change, a team including Integrative Biology Professor Brent Mishler and Andrew Thornhill, collaborating with Carlos Gonzalez-Orozco from the University of Canberra, used a new big data analytic method to model the effects of climate change on eucalypts, Australia’s most dominant and widespread trees, taking into account detailed ranges for each species and their evolutionary relationships based on thousands of DNA sequences. Read More...
The East West Alliance, a global network of universities and medical schools supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation, annually supports a symposium at one of the participating institutions. The 2016 symposium will be held at UC Berkeley, Sunday, October 30 through Tuesday, November 1, on the theme "Frontiers in Health Research".
The Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is embarking on a broad search for a scientist to fill a tenure-track position (Assistant Professor) in Vertebrate Physiology. The expected start date is July 1, 2017.
We welcome applicants who study any vertebrate taxon (including humans) and who can relate their research to human physiology. We seek a colleague to join a department with strong multidisciplinary emphases, and to complement and bridge strongly represented fields such as human health sciences, ecology, comparative biomechanics, endocrinology, genomics, and evolutionary biology. Candidates will also be expected to have a strong interest in both undergraduate and graduate teaching and to contribute to instruction in core courses of vertebrate physiology as well as in their specific area of expertise.
Different genes are expressed side-by-side on a leaf through transient expression, a technique that is now being used to compare changes to photosynthesis and identify ways to increase crop yields. Image courtesy of Krishna Niyogi.
Photosynthesis is the process in which plants turn light energy and carbon dioxide into food and fuel. In full sun, plants receive more energy than they can use. The extra energy could generate damaging molecules, but instead, plants siphon this energy off as heat to protect themselves. When a cloud passes overhead, plants are slow to recover from this protective process, which is called non-photochemical quenching, or NPQ.
In a recent study, researchers used a rapid screening technique that genetically engineers plants--in real time--to investigate how to help plants realize their full potential during this process.
"It can take minutes to hours for the plant to fully recover and begin photosynthesizing at maximum capacity again," said Krishna Niyogi, a professor in the department of plant and microbial biology (PMB) and one of the authors of the study. "We are trying to figure out how to speed up the plant's recovery from NPQ, which models predict could increase yields by 10 to 15 percent."
Niyogi and co-authors are searching for mechanisms that plants and algae naturally evolved to recover faster from NPQ. Their study was published in Plant Journal and is part of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency(RIPE), a multi-institutional research project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led by the University of Illinois at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology.
"The method developed here will greatly accelerate the search for means to improve photosynthetic efficiency under conditions of varying light," said said RIPE Director Steve Long, Gutgsell Endowed Professor of Plant Biology and Crop Sciences at Illinois.
Before implementing this technique, researchers could quickly sequence the DNA of these organisms, but lacked the biological tools to quickly figure out the genes responsible for desirable traits. They would have had to spend weeks or months creating gene constructs, inserting them into plants, growing the plants, and ensuring that the gene had been expressed.
Now, in a matter of days, they can compare multiple genes side-by-side on the same leaf using transient expression, a temporary technique to evaluate gene function used extensively by plant pathologists. With transient expression, the gene is expressed for a few days and then the effect on the leaf is tested.
Researchers swap out the genes from a bacterium that, in nature, produce tumorous growths on the roots of flowering plants with the genes that might speed recovery from NPQ.
NPQ is incredibly complex. At least four different mechanisms, with different rates of recovery, collectively make up NPQ. The fastest mechanism is mediated by a tug-of-war between two enzymes.
In this study, researchers evaluated how overexpressing these enzymes affected NPQ. They also evaluated three distantly related proteins (from a unicellular alga, a moss, and a small flowering plant) that are thought to activate the fastest mechanism; they found that the protein from the moss had the fastest activation and greatest capacity to recover from NPQ.
Finally, they confirmed the function of genes from two species of oceanic algae, which are emerging model organisms. One of these genes enabled the plant to produce a pigment that has been shown to improve energy transfer.
Ultimately, this technique speeds up the research process. Now researchers can use this technique to quickly identify the genes needed to increase the yields of staple food crops. Through "global access," pledged by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the outcome of this work may one day benefit smallholder farmers, especially those working to sustain their communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeastern Asia.
Lauriebeth Leonelli (PMB) was lead author of the study, and other co-authors include PMB's Erika Erickson and Dagmar Lyska.Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 13:15byline: by Claire BenjaminLegacy: section header item: Date: Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 13:15headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left
A new study published in the journal Science by researchers at UC Berkeley demonstrates that while the effects of future climate change will be significant, the social and economic impacts of our current climate today are often just as severe.
Tamma Carleton, a Ph.D. student in agricultural and resource economics, and Solomon Hsiang, chancellor’s associate professor of public policy, worked together at the Global Policy Lab at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy to review more than 100 studies — leveraging what they say has been an explosion of data unleashed by advances in computing, climate data and statistical analyses — to demonstrate that the current global climate already is a major force in human affairs.
“So much attention is focused on the future effects of climate change that hardships imposed by the climate today, which are often just as large, are ignored,” Hsiang said. “If we solve these problems today, we’ll benefit everyone, both in this generation and the next.”
The authors looked at current climate impacts on areas such as economy, agriculture, trade, energy, violence, migration and more. They calculate, for example, that high temperatures currently drive up rates of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 29 percent and slow the growth rate of the global economy by 0.25 percentage points per year.
Hsiang and Carleton note the importance of sorting out the causes and possible solutions to numerous climate “adaptation gaps,” where populations don’t make adjustments to protect themselves from the harmful impacts of climate change.
“The failure to adapt could represent intelligent decision-making, if the costs of implementing changes are very high, or they could simply indicate persistently poor judgment,” explained Carleton. Figuring out which is the case is a trillion-dollar question, according to the team.Monday, September 12, 2016 - 10:45byline: By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media relations Legacy: section header item: Date: Monday, September 12, 2016 - 10:45headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left