U.S. Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Microbiomes in Transition (MinT) Initiative

Microbes in Transition

Nearly every habitat and organism on Earth contains a diverse collection of microorganisms, called microbiomes. Microbiomes play important roles in our world, among them:

  • carbon and nutrient cycling,
  • pollutant degradation,
  • plant growth promotion, and
  • cause and prevention of disease. 

The scientific community is currently in the "discovery phase" of microbiome science; overall, we--the community--lack a mechanistic understanding of the roles that microbes play in the environment and human health and how their roles change during transition from one state to another.

Scientists in PNNL's Microbiomes in Transition (MinT) Initiative are performing state-of-the-art research to address key knowledge gaps in microbiome understanding. Put simply, our team's goal is to understand & predict impacts of perturbations on key roles that are carried out by microbiomes.



Probiotics and Secondary Bile Acids as Regulators of the Gut Microbe Interactome
PI: Aaron Wright
The primary goals of this project is to develop and implement an integrated experimental and computational capability that predicts multi-species chemical synthesis pathways. In addition, this project will establish a new capability for advanced cultivation of human gut microbial consortia that can be used as a reproducible test-bed for multi-omics investigations.

Metaproteogenomics Pipeline for Microbiomes
PI: Kristin Burnum-Johnson
Metaproteomics is a power technique that enables characterization of proteins, providing novel insights into microbial communities. However, the magnitude of data collected in metaproteomic experiments and the need for large databases for protein identification currently limits the depth of proteome coverage. We propose the development of a PNNL metaprotegenomics informatics pipeline which leverages the unparalleled sensitive and mass accuracy afforded from the next generation mass specs.

Gut Microbiome and Host Fatigue
PI: Kristoffer Brandvold
Influence of the gut microbiome on host fatigue will be assessed through analysis of community function. Bolstering host resilience through modulation of gut microbiome community structure and function could allow for increased performance in high stress situations, including those frequently encountered by first responders. Goal of this study is to determine how the gut microbiome modulates susceptibility to cognitive and physical fatigue, and define the molecular factors involved.


Janet Jansson is Chief Scientist for Biology in the Biological Sciences Division and a laboratory fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Currently Dr. Jansson is the lead for the Microbiome in Transition initiative and the...
Aaron Wright leads the Chemical Biology & Exposure Sciences Group in the Biological Sciences Division at PNNL.  His highly collaborative and diverse chemical biology research team is focused on gaining an improved functional and mechanistic...
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