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 and 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.

Eoin Brodie, a person with short gray hair wearing a black Patagonia vest over a blue and white checkered collared shirt, photographed outdoors.

Eoin Brodie is the deputy director of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area's Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division, using technologies to reverse-engineer complex microbiomes in natural and managed ecosystems. He is also the Laboratory Research Manager of the Watershed Function Science Focus Area, a science co-lead for BioEPIC, and co-directs the Joint Berkeley Initiative for Microbiome Sciences (JBIMS).

Jonelle Basso, a person with long dark braided hair wearing a black blazer over a white printed top.

Jonelle Tamara Basso is a research scientist at the DOE Joint Genome Institute focusing on plant-microbe interactions. Her research investigates the quantitative impact of phage genes on root colonization and the molecular underpinnings of a presumptive plant-bacterial-phage interaction.

A computer screen floating in front of a supercomputing facility with a virus and bacteria coming out of the top. A large root system connects the computer with dirt floor full of soil organisms. A person with medium-length brown hair wearing a black top, photographed against a large tree.

A team of scientists led by Berkeley Lab has developed a new model that incorporates genetic information from microbes. This new model enables the scientists to better understand how certain soil microbes efficiently store carbon supplied by plant roots, and could inform agricultural strategies to preserve carbon in the soil in support of plant growth and climate change mitigation.

Diatoms do so much for us already – they’re the base of the oceans’ food chains and take up 20% of the planet’s carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. But biologist Setsuko Wakao thinks they’d be great at another job too: acting as tiny sponges to store toxic or useful metals using the molecule structure of their gorgeous shells.

Microscope illustration shining a light on proteins. Construction on the BioEPIC building. A vial containing brightly colored shapes representing molecules sits on a beige surface next to empty blue vials Charlie Koven conducting fieldwork outdoors. Closeup shot of sorghum with a bee nearby. View of Earth from space.