By Date

Did last ice age affect breast feeding in Native Americans?

Department of Integrative Biology - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 13:54

Dr. Leslea Hlusko, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology, and her lab have interesting new findings. "The critical role that breast feeding plays in infant survival may have led, during the last ice age, to a common genetic mutation in East Asians and Native Americans that also, surprisingly, affects the shape of their teeth." Read more...

Categories: Science News

Did last ice age affect breast feeding in Native Americans?

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 12:00
Tracing the genetics of a distinctive tooth shape in Native Americans, scientists discover link between mutation and the density of female breast tissue
Categories: Science News

In Memoriam: George Oster, Pioneer in Mathematical Biology

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 04/23/2018 - 11:12

On April 15, 2018, the campus community lost a great friend when Professor George Oster passed away in his Berkeley home at the age of 77. Professor Oster was affiliated with many departments on campus, including the MCB division of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Oster's career meandered among many different scientific disciplines, from mechanical engineering to entomology. He spent much of his career investigating the laws of mechanochemical coupling in cells, which led to a significant breakthrough in our understanding of energy transduction as it occurs in living organisms.

His research and teaching career at Berkeley spanned several decades, and his legacy will be remembered fondly by the campus and MCB community.

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Nomura & Chang Advance Drug Targeting Research with Novartis

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 04/20/2018 - 00:32

MCB, Chemistry & NST Associate Professor Daniel Nomura and MCB & Chemistry Professor Chris Chang partner with Novartis Pharmaceuticals to identify and utilize new drug targets in the human proteome.

These new advancements in chemoproteomics could increase drug efficacy and open up new protein sites for targeted drug treatment.

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First annual "Is a PhD for Me?” conference a success

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:00

Is a PhD for me? conference participants"Is a PhD for Me?”, a conference for students with disabilities who are contemplating applying to graduate school in the biomedical sciences was held on Saturday, April 14th. The event drew students from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, San Francisco State University and Mills College.

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Enlarged spleen key to diving endurance of ‘sea nomads’

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/19/2018 - 09:00
The Indonesian Bajau people spend much of their day underwater, and have adapted to long periods without air by developing spleens half again as large as those of non-diving groups
Categories: Science News

Imported bullfrogs likely kicked off state epidemic of frog-killing fungus

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/18/2018 - 08:45
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology helps track down culprit behind fungus that has devastated frog populations throughout California
Categories: Science News

Industry experts share insights on biotech careers

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 15:20

April 10th IAP event panel discussionIndustry-minded MCB students and postdocs were enthusiastic about the opportunity to meet industry representatives and ask questions about careers in biotech at the recent MCB Industrial Affiliates Program event on April 10, 2018.

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Bateup & Ünal honored by American Association of Anatomists

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:28

The American Association of Anatomists has honored MCB Assistant Professors Helen Bateup and Elçin Ünal with 2018 Young Investigator awards. The award recognizes early-career scientists who have made significant research contributions to biomedical science.

Calaveras Dam fossil trove gives researchers greatest local find in decades

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 04/17/2018 - 10:14
The quality and size of discovery paints a detailed picture of the Bay Area 20 million years ago
Categories: Science News

In ‘Gone City,’ geographer questions Silicon Valley’s boom times

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 17:00
Geographer's new book deconstructs the Bay Area's remarkable journey from the Gold Rush to its dominance at the top of the tech world
Categories: Science News

UC Berkeley’s massive egg collection helps project up for possible Webby

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:14
Voting is open until Thursday for a best-of-the-Internet Webby award
Categories: Science News

Drought alters microbiome of plants’ roots

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 16:00
Sorghum study shows drought shifts balance of root microbiome, a finding that could help scientists manipulate crops to withstand climate change
Categories: Science News

Drought treatment restructures plants’ microbiomes

College of Natural Resources - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:45
A field of sorghum plants

Sorghum plants growing at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

New research from the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) demonstrates that exposing sorghum plants to drought conditions can shift the balance between specific types of microorganisms found within their root systems. The study, published today in PNAS, suggests that drought plays a role in restructuring the development of the early root microbiome, a finding that could help scientists develop crops that are more resistant to climate change. 

PMB faculty members Devin Coleman-Derr, Peggy Lemaux, and John Taylor conducted the research at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center on sorghum, a cereal crop known for its drought tolerance. The following PMB graduate students and researchers also contributed to the study: Zhaobin Dong, Cheng Gao, Mary Madera, Daniel Naylor, Grady Pierroz, Tuesday Simmons, Yi Wang, and Ling Xu.

To understand the relationship between drought and sorghum’s microbiome, the research team studied a full 17-week growth cycle of the plant, taking samples weekly on the same day of the week and time. On each collection visit, samples were gathered from soil near the plants’ roots and rhizosphere—a microbe-rich soil region surrounding the root that is full of root secretions. A plant’s rhizosphere is home to a host of bacteria and other microorganisms, including fungi, which consume sugars and proteins sloughed off by root cells. Some of these compounds appear to provide a communication channel between the plant and bacteria, indicating the drought status of the plant.

After studying these samples, researchers learned that under drought conditions, the development of a plant’s microbial community is delayed and the diversity of microorganisms in the rhizosphere decreases. But once a plant’s access to water is restored, its microbiome regains its diversity of bacteria.

The discovery of this drought-induced microbiome enrichment of specific bacteria could offer a potential pathway for manipulating plant microbiomes in crops that are less drought-tolerant than sorghum. “This research represents an important step forward in our understanding of how and when plants recruit their microbial partners from the surrounding environment,” said Coleman-Derr.

The paper is the first research published from a $12.3 million Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research-funded project, which aims to develop an in-depth understanding of drought tolerance in field-grown sorghum. The project is a collaboration between PMB scientists Coleman-Derr, Lemaux, Taylor, and John Vogel, as well as Elizabeth Purdom from UC Berkeley’s Department of Statistics, Axel Visel and Ronan O’Malley from the Joint Genome Institute, ANR Research Station directors Jeff Dahlberg and Robert Hutmacher, and Christer Jansson, a researcher at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

“We hope our work will provide similar strategies in other less drought-tolerant crops that can be used to increase our capacity to provide food and animal feed in the face of challenges from climate change,” said Lemaux. “In the end, this treatment strategy might give plants one more tool to help them survive drought.”

Image:  A field of sorghum plants Date:  Monday, April 16, 2018 - 14:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Monday, April 16, 2018 - 11:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

Capstone team takes second in Big Ideas

Department of Bioengineering - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:09
The senior capstone team "SurgeCare", of Jovanny Guillen, Tatiana Jansen and Irene Kim, took 2nd place in the 2018 Big Ideas contest, Global Health category! SurgeCare is a locally sourced device capable of effectively cleaning surgical instruments using recycled, pressurized water, without the use of electricity, with the potential to decrease the high rate of surgical site infections in low resource settings like Ethiopia.
Categories: Science News

Berkeley ecologist selected as a lead author for IPCC report

College of Natural Resources - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:04
Patrick Gonzalez


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has selected Patrick Gonzalez  as a lead author for its next major climate change assessment.

Gonzalez is an associate adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. Gonzalez will be a lead author for a chapter about ecosystems.

IPCC is the scientific panel that produces the authoritative reports on human-caused climate change, which are then used as the standard references for scientists and policymakers. For this work, IPCC was awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Gonzalez will serve as a lead author on the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, Volume 2, to be published in 2021. The report will be titled “Climate Change 2021: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” He will be the lead author for chapter two, “Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their services.” 

Gonzalez is an affiliate of the UC Berkeley Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity and a Ph.D. alumnus of the UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group. He is a forest ecologist and conducts applied research on climate change impacts and solutions and works with national parks, policymakers, and local people to integrate climate change science into natural resource management. 

UC Berkeley professor of earth and planetary sciences William Collins, an expert in climate modeling, will also be a co-author on the report. 

More on the IPCC authors can be found on the IPCC website. 

Image:  Patrick Gonzalez Date:  Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 11:00 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Friday, April 13, 2018 - 11:00 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards

Berkeley ecologist selected as a lead author for IPCC report

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:00
Patrick Gonzales will lead a chapter in the report.
Categories: Science News

Some species of endangered frogs may be making a comeback

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 19:20

A new study coauthored by associate professor Bree Rosenblum and graduate student Alison Byrne has found that populations of several Panamian frog species are slowly making a comeback against a deadly pathogen that can lead to extinction. Published last week in Science, the research provides evidence suggesting that the frogs have gained potent defenses in their skin against the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes a disease called chytridiomycosis and has devastated amphibian populations around the world.

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Image:  Date:  Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 19:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, April 10, 2018 - 19:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

Start of most sensitive search yet for dark matter axion

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 16:16
Listening to the faint signals of axions was impossible until John Clarke invented a low-noise superconducting quantum amplifier
Categories: Science News