ENIGMA – Ecosystems and Networks Integrated with Genes and Molecular Assemblies – is a multi-institutional consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Scientific Focus Area (SFA) grant program and managed by DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
Established in 2009, ENIGMA researchers seek to advance our understanding of microbial biology and the impact of microbial communities on their ecosystems. Team members collaborate closely to generate detailed quantitative understanding across scales — from molecular to cellular to community-level. We have the technological and scientific arsenal to link environmental microbiological field-studies to both highly advanced field and laboratory meta-functional genomic and genetics tools. This capability, the ability rapidly to assess gene content and expressed functions of environmental microbes and bring them to model-organism status in the laboratory, is ripe for application to microbial communities. These studies will likely provide unprecedented views into the pathways that link the functioning of diverse genomes in the context of their environment and thereby deliver a mechanistic understanding of complex environmental bioprocesses. An emerging ability to link environmental bioprocesses to cellular fitness under different conditions provides an opportunity to link microbial processes to different ecological theories to explain the observed differences in identity and diversity of microbes along transects (gradients) of geochemical parameters.