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Research projects in Argonne’s Biosciences Division range from fundamental studies of genome sequences using molecular biology and computational strategies as well as experimental validation of protein structure/function to detailed analysis of field samples for the characterization of natural biochemical processes at the molecular level.

The mission of the Biosciences Division is to use state-of-the-art technology to conduct multidisciplinary basic research that will increase our understanding of the fundamental molecular mechanisms of life with the goal of enabling important advances in environmental protection and remediation, energy production and sustainability, and human health and welfare.

The microbial dynamics program in Biosciences employs cutting edge high-throughput sequencing to generate billions of genetic fragments from soils and polluted ecosystems. These data are then explored in collaboration with the Math & Computer Science (MCS) division using bioinformatics to define the functional capacity of each ecosystem and how this capacity can be used to clean-up polluted environments.

The division’s molecular engineering of microbial systems research aims at systems-level understanding of bacterial adaptive responses to environmental changes and interspecies interactions. Additionally, studies focus on identifying the molecular function and biological role of proteins to enable manipulation of community (microbe-microbe and microbe-plant) interactions.

As part of the division’s structural biology work, researchers contribute atomic-level details for a wide range of molecular systems using light-source-based X-ray structural molecular biology, thereby enhancing the understanding of many biological and cellular processes. We have also developed many high-throughput methods and tools in proteomics and molecular and structural biology that are essential for three-dimensional structure determination, including technologies for gene cloning, recombinant protein expression, purification and characterization, crystallization, data collection, structure solution and analysis.

Another main focus area is the development of an internationally recognized integrated multidisciplinary scientific team focused on the investigation of fundamental biogeochemical questions.  In addition to investigating fundamental biogeochemical transformations resulting from biological, physical, and chemical processes in the subsurface that affect the transformations and mobility of carbon/nutrient forms, contaminants, and the geochemical character of groundwater, we facilitate the use of the Advanced Photon Source and other synchrotrons to do work closely related to research within the Argonne Subsurface Biogeochemical Research Program Science Focus Area.

Within the systems and computational biology area, research is being done in characterizing the functional contributions of microbial communities. To this end researchers are developing in vitro and in silico methods to improve our understanding of microorganisms, their interactions and their metabolism.