Yearbook 2016

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Many insect species emit aggregation pheromones to attract conspecifics to host plants. This can lead to rapid mass infestations and severe crop losses in agriculture. Recently, a novel family of terpene synthases was discovered in Phyllotreta flea beetles which are important pests of crucifer crops. One member of this enzyme family was shown to be responsible for the formation of the sesquiterpene aggregation pheromone of the pest species. This knowledge on insect pheromone biosynthesis may lead to new approaches in pest management. more
Insect feeding often induces early defense signaling in plants that activates a cascade of anti-herbivore defenses, protecting the plants from further attack. However, defense responses can also reduce the plant`s ability to survive due to physiological trade-offs. Thus plants need to evolve a robust signaling network that regulates these herbivore-induced defenses. Phylogenomic analysis of the genes involved in herbivore induced transcriptomic responses in Nicotiana showed that genome multiplication likely played an important role in shaping the evolution of early defense signaling in plants. more
Metallic materials are the backbone of industrialized societies which obtain their competitiveness from providing efficient means of energy conversion, save and weight reduced mobility as well as the manufacturing of complex high tech products and industry processes. New tailor made materials are developed by using computer simulations in conjunction with atomic scale tomography. By this approach new high performance materials are developed based on the atomic principles of matter. more
The energy conversion leads to even greater shares of renewable electricity ("green electricity") in the system. Nevertheless, the emission of CO2 is not yet decreasing as expected. The major neglect of the mobility sector is one of the causes. This sector is experiencing one of the greatest upheavals in its history by discussing drive trains. As a possible critical problem solver, chemistry plays a largely passive role, although it will be severely affected by the results of this discussion. more
The processing of sensory information is hard work for our brain: Millions of neurons have to work together to process the flood of information about our environment. In the past years it became obvious that the rhythmic synchronization between cortical areas plays an important role in the directed routing of information in the brain. New experiments reveal that neuronal rhythms can modulate the gain of incoming stimuli. This mechanism gives an explanation of how we can consciously perceive an isolated object by focusing our attention on it. more
One characteristic of bird migration is its variability, both within and among species. Particularly fascinating are young birds on their first migratory journey covering thousands of kilometers that often span continents. These tiny birds travel to wintering areas they have never been before - without the guidance of their parents, but with amazing accuracy. How do they do this? From selection experiments we know that variation in migratory behaviour is largely due to genetic differences, but the number and identity of genes involved in controlling migratory traits remains elusive. more
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