2022 marks the JGI’s 25th anniversary. Over the next few months, we’ll be revisiting a number of notable achievements that showcase our collaborations and capabilities to enable great science that will help solve energy and environmental challenges.
Within days of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that dumped nearly five million barrels of light crude oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) were on the scene collecting samples.
Terry Hazen, a former Berkeley Lab environmental biologist and current holder of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair, noted that one of the biggest questions was the mystery of the missing oil: “There was oil on the surface and oil below, but no oil in between.” To find an explanation, his team tracked the thousands of bacterial and archaeal species using a DNA-based array developed at Berkeley Lab.
Over the next decade, the JGI’s single cell genomics and metagenomics capabilities were harnessed in several Lab collaborations. The JGI’s single cell genomics expertise led to the identification of a new “oil-seeking” species related to Oceanospirillales, work that also involved Janet Jansson’s team. Jansson is currently Chief Scientist for Biology in the Biological Sciences Division and a Laboratory Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). The JGI also helped track and characterize the shifting waves of microbial communities involved in removing different fractions of the oil.
Hazen described the early efforts in his keynote talk at JGI’s 2011 Annual Genomics of Energy & Environment Meeting: “What we wanted to do was apply a systems biology approach to the oil spill, looking at exactly what happens at all levels and developing models for cellular properties, communities and ecosystems.” Building off multiple collaborations, Lab researchers working with the JGI successfully simulated how successive waves of microbial populations degraded the dispersed oil.
- Terry Hazen on “The Gulf Oil Spill: Ecogenomics and Ecoresilience” at the 2011 JGI Annual Genomics of Energy & Environment Meeting
- JGI Release: Waves of Berkeley Lab Responders Deploy Omics to Track Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Cleanup Microbes
- JGI Science Highlight: Hope for Re-establishing Gulf of Mexico Microbial Populations
- JGI Science Highlight: Examining a predominant Deepwater Horizon microbe
- JGI Science Highlight: Lessons from Simulating A Deep Ocean Oil Spill
- JGI Earth Month: Lessons in Nature’s Resilience