Biological Systems Science Research Area
Biological systems science encompasses the ability to measure, predict, design, and ultimately control multi-cellular biological systems and bioinspired solutions for energy, environment, and health. It involves fundamental research and technology development using a systems and synthetic biology approach of natural and engineered biological systems both in the laboratory and in the field.This includes development of technologies focused on how cells, cell communities, and organisms sense and respond to their environment.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is recognized internationally for our biological systems science capabilities, including leadership in proteomics and other 'omic technologies, environmental microbiology, systems toxicology, and biotechnology. Our expertise also includes cell biology and biochemistry, radiation biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, bioforensics, and biodetection. Of particular interest are biological dark matter and engineered biosystems. Biological systems science is stewarded by PNNL's Biological Sciences Division but includes staff and research across the Laboratory.
Biological Dark Matter. Scientists can access an ever-increasing number of organisms for which the complete DNA sequence—the genome—is known. While genome sequencing reveals the basic building blocks of life, a genome sequence alone is insufficient for determining biological function. "Unknown genes" are those for which the encoded function is unknown. These genes are part of what scientists refer to as "biological dark matter." PNNL is at the forefront of proteomics and computational research directed toward understanding biological dark matter.
"Biological dark matter is not just the identification of new genes, but the incorporation of the existing and new genes into annotated gene function. Finding the novel genes is only the first step. Determining what the genes do and who they are interacting with are the next steps in linking the discovery of biological dark matter into gene function."
— PNNL scientist Dr. Mary Lipton
Engineered Biosystems. To design engineered biosystems for energy generation, carbon sequestration, or environmental cleanup, we need the ability to look not just at how a cell works, but how it works together in communities. We need to understand how cells work and how the various pieces work together.
The primary challenges in predicting the behavior, manipulating, and engineering microbes and microbial communities are in understanding how microorganisms function and can be altered to enhance the production of desired products. Our approach to is to create sets of integrated technologies that lead to a mechanistic and predictive understanding of biological systems.
Advanced multiscale in situ imaging tools for characterizing structure and function under operating conditions and new multiscale modeling approaches will be used to
- Create unique microscale environments
- Integrate 'omics data from microbial communities and their members, interrogate metabolism and kinetics using stable isotope analysis
- Develop mathematical models to analyze the micro-scale biological processes and predict their macroscale effects.
This will allow us to interrogate, model, manipulate, and engineer metabolic pathways using system-level and synthetic biology approaches in natural and constructed microbial systems.
- Justin Teeguarden Receives Best Abstract Award
- In Situ Chemical Imaging at the Sub-Biofilm-Scale Now Possible
- Scientists Capture "Redox Moments" in Living Cells
- Soil Bacterium Causes Biofuel Breakdown
- PNNL and Collaborators Receive ARPA-E Award for Gas-to-Liquid Fuel Biocatalysis
- Light Variation Drives Community Structure of a Hypersaline Microbial Mat
- Eliminating a "Superbug"
- Green Isoprene Closer to Reality
- Crafting a Better Enzyme Cocktail to Turn Plants into Fuel Faster
- Amino Acids Boost Protein Recovery in Microbial Communities
- Lost in Translation: Gene Expression Changes Don't Always Alter Protein Levels
- Dick Smith Appointed to CDC Board
- Cutting Through Complexity: Probing Soil Microbial Communities at the Aggregate Scale
- Vanessa Bailey Named Wiley Research Fellow
- Novel Statistical Approach for Understanding Microbial Community Ecology
- Novel Integration of Mass Spectrometry Techniques Wins R&D 100 Award
- Ron Taylor Examines Synthetic Biology at Gordon Conference
- Genome Organization of Organism Reflects Its "Hot" Lifestyle
- Salmonella Infection Is a Battle Between Good and Bad Bacteria in the Gut
- Rodland to Chair NIH Cancer Biomarkers Study Section
- Review Article Puts Low-Dose Radiation Biology Controversy into Perspective
- Integrated Omics Uncovers Roles of Fungi and Bacteria in Lignocellulose Degradation
- Keqi Tang Named Battelle Distinguished Inventor
- Dick Smith to Receive Award for Distinguished Contribution in Mass Spectrometry
- Cybernetic Model Developed to Predict Shewanella Metabolic Behavior
- Striking While the Iron Is Hot
- Unlocking the Parkinson's Puzzle
- Seeing the Messages Microbes Send
- Photobioreactor Enables Systems Biology Studies of Cyanobacteria
- Dick Smith to Serve as Associate Editor of Clinical Proteomics
- BPA Findings Highlighted at AAAS Annual Meeting
- Protein Probes for Biomass
- Toxicologists to Receive Best Paper Award from International Society
- The Biology of Plague
- Marginal Lands Are Prime Fuel Source for Alternative Energy
- Metabolomics Key to Identifying Disease Pathway
- Chemical Probe Finds Fungal Organism Function
- Alex Shvartsburg, Keqi Tang Win FLC Tech Transfer Award
- Nigel Browning Named AAAS Fellow
- Illustrating the Power of Modeling
- Predicting the Future for Stroke Victims
- Getting a Quick View of Data
- Novel Archaea Found in Geothermal Microbial Mats
- New Bacteria Divisions Discovered
- Sustained Hydrogen Production from Cyanobacteria in the Presence of Oxygen
- Mass Spec Makes the Clinical Grade
- 2012 Fundamental & Computational Sciences Accomplishments Report Now Available
- Bill Morgan Authored Three Top 50 Radiation Research Articles
- Lung Imaging Research Gets Its Second Wind
- Collaborative Study Looks for Clues on Hard-to-Treat Breast Cancer
- Human Skin Model Shows Signaling Pathway Effects from Low Dose Exposure
- Proteomics Identifies Targets of Ionizing Radiation in a Human Skin Model
- Study Dusts Sugar Coating Off Little-Known Regulation In Cells
- Bacteria Tend Leafcutter Ants' Gardens
- Modeling Microbes to Manage Carbon Dioxide
- Lipidomics Leads to Paper's Selection as Editor's Choice
- PNNL Chosen as a Premier Proteomics Center for Cancer
- Addressing How Cigarettes Cause Cardiovascular Disease
- Investigating Infectious Disease Interactions
- Clustering Is Key to Lighting Up the Dark Proteome
- Most complete human blood-plasma proteome to date