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Both the Berkeley Lab and the Department of Energy are committed to bringing science solutions to the reduction of atmospheric CO2 and sequestration of carbon.  My lab (Andersen) is involved in examining the often-overlooked interplay between microbes that can increase the efficiency of the composting process and provide sustainable conditions for favorable plant growth.  We have developed a number of advanced molecular tools for fine-scale monitoring of microbial community dynamics, including the PhyloChip microarray that can simultaneously identity the presence and abundance of up to 60,000 different taxa of bacteria and archaea in compost and soil in a single test.  This tool was used in the optimization of thermophilic composting to minimize greenhouse gas production and demonstrate the total elimination of pathogens in different compost matrices.  The Berkeley Lab also has among the most sensitive mass spectrometers for the detection of pharmaceutical chemicals in the world.  We are currently using this capability to determine if we can effectively degrade different classes of pharmaceuticals through the composting process.  In addition to highly sensitive, laboratory-based chemical detection, we are exploring the feasibility of hand held, field-ready near infrared reflectance spectrophotometers for measuring soil carbon.


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Date: 2016-02-18


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