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At PNNL, research on microorganisms and microbial communities results in new approaches to bioremediation and renewable energy development.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) houses a variety of advanced capabilities for studying systems biology. We have world-class proteomic instruments, a laboratory dedicated to understanding microbes at the molecular level, a variety of specialized microscopy equipment, a 900-MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, and highly developed computational biology tools. The combination of this unique collection of resources and our multidisciplinary, integrated research teams lends strength to our systems biology research.

Proteomics - Proteomics is the study of the entire array of proteins expressed by a particular cell, organism, or tissue type at a given point in time. The resources for proteomic research available at PNNL are unsurpassed in their sophistication.

Microbial Cell Dynamics Laboratory - At PNNL, we use the Microbial Cell Dynamics Laboratory (MCDL) to culture cells in a variety of environmentally relevant conditions. The goal of the MCDL is to allow our scientists to study simultaneously gene expression, protein expression, and metabolism in microorganisms. Our long-term mission is to develop a molecular-based understanding of complex microbial assemblages such as biofilms.

Ribbon cartoon depiction
Ribbon cartoon depiction of the backbone fold of the gamma subunit of dissimilatory sulfite reductase from Pyrobaculum aerophilum determined experimentally with solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Cysteine side-chain heavy atoms (free and in two disulfide bonds) are also shown.

Advanced Cell and Molecular Imaging - A wide variety of advanced imaging technologies at PNNL allows our researchers to visualize biological processes at many scales, from macroscopic features to individual molecules. At PNNL, we merge our imaging technologies to observe more than one characteristic of a sample at one time. In this way, we are able to learn about the structure and function of cellular components, regulatory pathways, and cells’ responses to environmental stimuli.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance – The current focus of research taking place in our Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (EPR) facilities is to determine the molecular structures of compounds that could affect environmental remediation and biological health. These instruments have been used at PNNL for a variety of biological studies, including structural and functional genomics.

Computational Biology and Bioinformatics - At PNNL, we are building computational biology and bioinformatic tools for systems biology research. Our collaborative approach teams computer scientists with biologists to design tools that target the needs of the bench scientist. These efforts are focused on computational modeling, bioinformatics, and computational infrastructure.

Systems Biology at PNNL

Research & Capabilities