Biological Systems

ORNL research is examining life across scales, from the genome to the environment, to find biological solutions for sustainable energy sources and a cleaner world. Underpinning such solutions is a better understanding of complex biological systems and their intricate relationships with the environment. To achieve this understanding, ORNL brings together multidisciplinary expertise and special facilities in genomics, computational biology, plant sciences, microbiology, microbial ecology, biophysics, and structural biology. This collective expertise includes collaborations within and outside ORNL and focuses on scientific challenges in biology for Department of Energy (DOE) missions in energy and environment.

Continuing a 50-year legacy that includes 26 R&D 100 awards, ORNL biology and environmental programs are supported by other federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Environmental Protection Agency, along with several industrial partners. Current systems biology projects comprise the following integrated and complementary research areas.

Research Highlights

Biggest-ever Populus dataset hands researchers another key to biofuels, materials, metabolite discoveries

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have released the largest-ever single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset of genetic variations in poplar trees, information useful to plant scientists as well as researchers in the fields of biofuels,...

Using high-performance computing to study co-evolutionary networks in poplar

A cross-disciplinary research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is using supercomputing to create an unprecedented view of the 3D interactions among components of the cellular machinery in Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood), a fast-growing perennial tree that shows...

Biology—Telltale microbes

A new process to identify certain microbes in women could be used to diagnose endometriosis without invasive surgery, even before symptoms start. A collaborative research team analyzed bacteria from a small sample of premenopausal women undergoing laparoscopic surgery for suspected...