U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Understanding Microbial Polarity
Published: December 11, 2002
Posted: December 27, 2002

Microbes are not just "bags of salt water" in which everything floats freely and is evenly distributed inside a spherical cell. Instead, microbes establish and maintain the unequal distribution of their internal components, i.e., they have "polarity." Polarity enables a microbe to move in the direction of a nutrient or away from a toxin, divide unequally into daughter cells that can display different behaviors (one can swim off looking for a new place to live and eat and the other may stay behind), or from structures that push the cell in one direction or another. A Stanford University research team is studying polarity in a microbe, Caulobacter crescentus, whose DNA was sequenced with Biological and Environmental Research support and that can remediate heavy metals in aquatic environments. A review article in the December 6, 2002, issue of Science, surveys the establishment of polarity in this and other microbes. This is a key step towards understanding the reality of complex microbial biology and the eventual use of microbes to address DOE needs in energy and the environment.

Contact: Dan Drell, SC-72, (301) 903-4742
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-72 Life Sciences Division, OBER)


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)