Through the Genomes to Life program, researchers hope to identify and characterize protein complexes, the molecular machines of life. A better understanding of protein complexes and their regulation in microbial organisms could lead to advances in a number of areas, including improving our ability to clean up metals in contaminated soil. Through this effort, researchers also expect to learn more about the earth's carbon cycle and ways to produce clean energy sources.
Michelle Buchanan, who will be the director of the new Genomes to Life Center for Molecular and Cellular Systems, noted that the project is an ambitious one. The work will require new analytical and computational tools to generate critical information that will revolutionize biological research.
"This is the next big step in biology -- putting the information from the genome program to work," said Buchanan, director of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division. "This is very much something for which the national labs are ideally suited because of their multidisciplinary teams and their exceptional analytical and computational capabilities."
A key partner for the three-year $23.4 million project is Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Together, ORNL and PNNL have the most comprehensive collection of analytical tools within the DOE lab system. These tools are necessary to better understand microbes on a molecular level.
Much of the challenge in this project lies in isolating proteins from a single cell, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process. PNNL and ORNL are devising new approaches to isolate these complexes in a robust, high-throughput fashion. In addition, powerful mass spectrome
Contact: Ron Walli
DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory