Aindrila Mukhopadhyay, a dark-haired person wearing a white jacket, poses for a headshot in the lab.

Soil-plant-microbe interactions

Microbiomes or microbial communities



Artistic rendering of the exterior of the BioEPIC facility after construction. Scientist and two students in a bioscience lab with glass bioreactors. Scientist holding a glass square container with a plant sample. A color sculpture of helix DNA in front of a dusk-bathed building. Four people gathered around a computer desk smiling Green field in front of blue, cloud-filled sky. Field at sunset. Scientist makes adjustments on the SmartSoils testbed. Scientist works in an orange lit laboratory. Two scientists looking at computer models. Gloved hands collect sample from soil. Birdseye view of green algal bloom. Scientist holding a petri dish. Person with medium-length black hair wearing glasses and a black cardigan over a blue top, photographed against a dark gray background.

Romy Chakraborty is head of the Ecology Department in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area. Chakraborty has pioneered discovery of unique microbes catalyzing key biogeochemical processes in diverse ecosystems to enable translational solutions for improving environmental health and sustainable agriculture.

Person with short dark brown hair wearing a black blazer over a black shirt, photographed outdoors.

Jean-Marie Volland is a scientist with dual appointments at the Joint Genome Institute and Laboratory for Research in Complex Systems. He uses classic and cutting-edge imaging approaches in conjunction with sequencing technologies to investigate gigantism and symbiotic interactions in uncultivated bacteria and small eukaryotes.

Person with short brown hair wearing a navy collared shirt, photographed against a gray background.

Nick Bouskill is an environmental microbiologist and biogeochemist broadly interested in the interaction between microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling. His two major interests are how ecosystems respond to drought, and how nitrogen and water cycles interact under a drier and warmer climate.

Container of dirt with small grass-like plants growing out of the soil. Dark-haired person wearing a pink button-up top.

Within [plant] microcosms are answers to long-standing and large-scale questions, such as how organisms across the planet are responding to climate change, how nutrients cycle through the food chain, and how we humans can engineer productive and drought-resistant crops. So, Berkeley Lab created a unique platform that can be used to study all aspects of these miniature environments with unprecedented precision and control.

Project Scientist Lauren Lui is using the latest bioinformatics technology to study the genes of these immensely bountiful and diverse microbes so we can learn how they shape the environment — and how we could harness them for agriculture, medicine, and more.

Conceptual painting depicting celestial purple orbs of varying sizes connected with stretching strands. This animation gives a 360-degree view of the phycobilisome structure researchers helped reveal. Artistic rendering of Ca. Thiomargarita magnifica with dime. Charlie Koven conducting fieldwork outdoors. Closeup shot of sorghum with a bee nearby. View of Earth from space.