April 2023: The second EcoPOD was delivered to Berkeley Lab and is located at Potter Street in West Berkeley. The EcoPOD v.2 is equipped with air conditioning, irrigation, lights, and a variety of advanced sensors. It has two chambers that can be sealed shut so researchers can study how the plants and soil organisms within react under different simulated conditions, and get an exact accounting of where carbon that enters the system ends up over time.

April 2023: Research using the EcoPOD was the subject of Avery Roberts’ BioEPIC Research Slam 2023 presentation, which earned Honorable Mention during this second annual event.

December 2022: Susannah Tringe and Kate Zhalnina have received FY23 Laboratory Directed Research and Development funding to continue their projects. Tringe is making improvements to the EcoPOD to enable safe, reproducible, mid-scale plant microbiome investigation. Zhalnina is uncovering plant-archaea interactions to regulate nitrogen availability in soils and increase carbon.

December 2021: The EcoPOD was included in Berkeley Lab’s Year in Review as a new scientific capability added this year that will help researchers understand how plants respond to climate change.

May 2021: Berkeley Lab and Biosciences Area leadership officially welcomed the EcoPOD to its home at Potter Street in West Berkeley. The Lab’s Deputy Director for Research Horst Simon and Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences Mary Maxon opened the doors of the EcoPOD after Maxon cut the ceremonial ribbon.

April 2021: The EcoPOD was featured in this Berkeley Lab photoessay, Meet EcoPOD: Berkeley Lab’s High-tech Growing Chamber.

November 2020: The EcoPOD was installed successfully and is operational.

September 2020: The first EcoPOD unit was cleared from customs. It is expected to arrive at the Lab later this month.

February 2020: Jenny Mortimer led the second EcoPOD workshop held at the Genomic Sciences Program meeting in Washington, D.C.

December 2019: Esther Singer visited the EcoPOD manufacturer Umwelt-Geraete-Technik in Germany.

October 2018: Team EcoPOD (Jenny Mortimer, Esther Singer) participated in the Energy I-Corps kickoff in Golden, Colorado. Berkeley Lab researchers have extensive plant-microbe-ecosystem science expertise. The Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO) recognized EcoPODs as a technology with broad application potential and provided an opportunity to explore best use case scenarios. Contact Susannah Tringe for more information about EcoPODs and their capabilities.

June 2018: The first EcoPOD workshop was held at Berkeley Lab. The invitation was extended to scientists and engineers from across the Lab, as well as a small number of external interested parties. It kicked off with a series of short talks on both the concept of the EcoPOD, as well as some of the types of science that could make use of such a facility. Both the scientific and technical challenges, including around data handling and modeling, were discussed in breakout groups.

May 2018: Jenny Mortimer was hosted by Manfred Türke when she visited the EcoTron facility at iDIV, in Leipzig, Germany. This high-tech new facility, composed of 24, custom designed EcoUnits is now starting their first experiment. Read more about this exciting new development in plant ecophysiology (Eisenhauer and Turke, 2018, Front. Ecol. Evol.).

December 2017: Gary Andersen and Jenny Mortimer visited EcoCELLs (Ecologically Controlled Enclosed Lysimeter Laboratories) at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, hosted by Richard Jasoni and Jay Arnone.

October 2017: The EcoPod Prototyping Project formally kicked off.

October 2016: The EcoPod Committee formed to discuss the possibility of developing mesocosm capabilities at Berkeley Lab.