BER research uncovers nature's secrets from the diversity of microbes and plants to understand how biological systems work, how they interact with each other, and how they can be manipulated to harness their processes and products. By starting with the potential encoded by organisms' genomes, BER-funded scientists seek to define the principles that guide the translation of the genetic code into functional proteins and the metabolic/regulatory networks underlying the systems biology of plants and microbes as they respond to and modify their environments. BER integrates discovery- and hypothesis-driven science, technology development, and foundational genomics research into predictive models of biological function for DOE mission solutions.
BER plays a unique and vital role in supporting research on atmospheric processes; terrestrial ecosystem processes; subsurface biogeochemical processes involved in nutrient cycling, radionuclide fate and transport, and water cycling; climate change and environmental modeling; and analysis of impacts and interdependencies of climatic change with energy production and use. These investments are coordinated to advance an earth system predictive capability, involving community models open to active participation of the research community. For more than two decades, BER has taken a leadership role to advance an understanding of the physics and dynamics governing clouds, aerosols, and atmospheric greenhouse gases, as these represent the more significant weaknesses of climate prediction systems. BER also supports multidisciplinary climate and environmental change research to advance experimental and modeling capabilities necessary to describe the role of the individual (terrestrial, cryospheric, oceanic, and atmospheric) component and system tipping points that may drive sudden change. In tight coordination with its research agenda, BER supports three major national user facilities, the ARM Climate Research Facility, Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, and the Joint Genome Institute.