Argonne National Laboratory


Argonne’s Biosciences Division conducts multidisciplinary research that increases our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of life and enables valuable advances in bioremediation, climate change, energy production, and the protection of human health, among other applications. Through biomolecular and field research, Biosciences researchers thoroughly analyze natural processes in a variety of environments.

Primary areas of focus include structural biology and structural genomics, computational biology, environmental biology, and molecular and systems biology.

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.

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Philippe Noirot