Scientists who will work in the Biological and Environmental Program Integration Center (BioEPIC) seek to revolutionize understanding of how microbes interact with soils and plants to influence the environment. Microbial communities play key roles in all parts of ecosystems, from the aquifers that store our water, to the plants that give us fuel, food, and fiber, and across entire watersheds that influence Earth’s climate through water, carbon, and nutrient cycles. Understanding these complex interactions across temporal scales – from nanoseconds to decades – and across spatial scales – from molecules to ecosystems – will enable solutions to urgent environmental, food, water, and energy challenges.
“Microbial communities are key drivers of biogeochemical cycles; microbes influence nitrogen fixation, carbon uptake, plant growth, and other processes. By better quantifying, predicting, and engineering these processes, we open the door to powerful new solutions for managing carbon, developing sources of sustainable bioenergy, and protecting the environment.”
“Development of fabricated ecosystems, novel sensors, computer models, and cyberinfrastructure is underway to transform our ability to seamlessly quantify and predict soil-microbe-plant interactions that are key to ecosystem functioning and climate resilience. To better understand how microbes function in the real-world systems we rely on for food, fuel, and clean water, BioEPIC will bridge the gap and virtually connect experiments between the laboratory, testbed, and field.”
Earth & Environmental Sciences Area
BioEPIC is one step closer to completion. In May 2022, Berkeley Lab leadership and scientists gathered to sign the building’s final structural beam before it was placed atop the facility in June 2022. The BioEPIC facility will house scientists from multiple disciplines who study microbial communities and how they influence the environment and how the environment influences microbial processes across scales of space and time.
Groundbreaking took place in October 2021. Go here for construction updates.
Watch the live construction webcam here.
BioEPIC Building of Berkeley Lab
Understanding how watersheds function, microbes, soils, and plants interact, and how soils react to warming temperatures could enable solutions to our most urgent water, energy, and climate challenges. Watch videos of our scientists talking about the biological and environmental research they will do in the BioEPIC facility.
Programs & Projects
ENIGMA researchers collaborate to create a predictive model of the impacts of microbial communities on critical processes within an ecosystem.
A project that aims to understand and control the microscopic organisms that live on plant roots to support sustainable bioenergy.
Advances understanding of belowground biogeochemistry in the soil-plant-climate system to inform prediction models.
Creates, validates, and disseminates EcoFAB technologies complete with standardized model microbial communities tailored for the microbiome science community.
Aims to pilot “twin” ecosystems in the laboratory and field that use sensors and autonomous controls to study changes in root secretions during drought stress to see if they select for beneficial microbes.
Developing understanding and tools to measure and predict how droughts, early snowmelt, and other perturbations impact downstream water availability and biogeochemical cycling at episodic to decadal timescales.
EESA Scientists Close Rhizosphere Microbiome Knowledge Gaps
A research team at Berkeley Lab’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Area published findings of a recent study into how the rhizosphere – the soil zone surrounding plant roots – interacts with surrounding microbes.