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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Lignocellulose forms plant cell walls, and its three constituent polymers, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, represent the largest renewable organic carbon pool in the terrestrial biosphere. Insights into biological lignocellulose deconstruction inform understandings of global carbon sequestration dynamics and provide inspiration for biotechnologies seeking to address the current climate crisis by producing renewable chemicals from plant biomass. Organisms in diverse environments disassemble lignocellulose, and carbohydrate degradation processes are well defined, but biological lignin deconstruction is described only in aerobic systems. It is currently unclear whether anaerobic lignin deconstruction is impossible because of biochemical constraints or, alternatively, has not yet been measured. We applied whole cell-wall nuclear magnetic resonance, gel-permeation chromatography and transcriptome sequencing to interrogate the apparent paradox that anaerobic fungi (Neocallimastigomycetes), well-documented lignocellulose degradation specialists, are unable to modify lignin. We find that Neocallimastigomycetes anaerobically break chemical bonds in grass and hardwood lignins, and we further associate upregulated gene products with the observed lignocellulose deconstruction. These findings alter perceptions of lignin deconstruction by anaerobes and provide opportunities to advance decarbonization biotechnologies that depend on depolymerizing lignocellulose.

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  3. Mathematical models of biomolecular networks are commonly used to study mechanisms of cellular processes, but their usefulness is often questioned due to parameter uncertainty. Here, we employ Bayesian parameter inference and dynamic network analysis to study dominant reaction fluxes in models of extrinsic apoptosis. Although a simplified model yields thousands of parameter vectors with equally good fits to data, execution modes based on reaction fluxes clusters to three dominant execution modes. A larger model with increased parameter uncertainty shows that signal flow is constrained to eleven execution modes that use 53 out of 2067 possible signal subnetworks. Each execution mode exhibits different behaviors to in silico perturbations, due to different signal execution mechanisms. Machine learning identifies informative parameters to guide experimental validation. Our work introduces a probability-based paradigm of signaling mechanisms, highlights systems-level interactions that modulate signal flow, and provides a methodology to understand mechanistic model predictions with uncertain parameters. 
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  6. Abstract Progress in sequencing, microfluidics, and analysis strategies has revolutionized the granularity at which multicellular organisms can be studied. In particular, single-cell transcriptomics has led to fundamental new insights into animal biology, such as the discovery of new cell types and cell type-specific disease processes. However, the application of single-cell approaches to plants, fungi, algae, or bacteria (environmental organisms) has been far more limited, largely due to the challenges posed by polysaccharide walls surrounding these species’ cells. In this perspective, we discuss opportunities afforded by single-cell technologies for energy and environmental science and grand challenges that must be tackled to apply these approaches to plants, fungi and algae. We highlight the need to develop better and more comprehensive single-cell technologies, analysis and visualization tools, and tissue preparation methods. We advocate for the creation of a centralized, open-access database to house plant single-cell data. Finally, we consider how such efforts should balance the need for deep characterization of select model species while still capturing the diversity in the plant kingdom. Investments into the development of methods, their application to relevant species, and the creation of resources to support data dissemination will enable groundbreaking insights to propel energy and environmental science forward. 
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  7. Water quality measures for inland and coastal waters are available as discrete samples from professional and volunteer water quality monitoring programs and higher-frequency, near-continuous data from automated in situ sensors. Water quality parameters also are estimated from model outputs and remote sensing. The integration of these data, via data assimilation, can result in a more holistic characterization of these highly dynamic ecosystems, and consequently improve water resource management. It is becoming common to see combinations of these data applied to answer relevant scientific questions. Yet, methods for scaling water quality data across regions and beyond, to provide actionable knowledge for stakeholders, have emerged only recently, particularly with the availability of satellite data now providing global coverage at high spatial resolution. In this paper, data sources and existing data integration frameworks are reviewed to give an overview of the present status and identify the gaps in existing frameworks. We propose an integration framework to provide information to user communities through the the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) AquaWatch Initiative. This aims to develop and build the global capacity and utility of water quality data, products, and information to support equitable and inclusive access for water resource management, policy and decision making. 
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  8. Here we report how reactions at a chemically reactive diphosphine shift the long-lived luminescent colour of a crystalline three-coordinate Cu( i ) complex from green to blue. The results demonstrate how vapochromism and single-crystal-to-single-crystal transformations can be achieved using ligand-centered reactions. 
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