Yearbook 2007

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Population ageing, low fertility and increasing disparities of family forms and life course patterns in Europe have put the interdependencies between politics and demography at the centre of public debate. Studies of the newly founded Laboratory of Population and Policy / PoL at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock show that demographic change may have a lasting effect on political systems both on the national and the European level. more
Animal embryos specify four early cell types. Determining the underlying mechanism is one central question of developmental biology. At present, it is studied how the crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis manages such developmental program at the eight-cell stage. Specification of germ cells, e.g., depends on the genes vasa and nanos, however, in a different way than in Drosophila melanogaster , demonstrating change of gene function during evolution. more
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are genome-encoded, about 22 nucleotide-long RNAs that silence gene expression post-transcriptionally by binding to 3’-untranslated regions of messenger RNAs. Although much information has been obtained about miRNA biogenesis and biological functions, the mechanisms allowing miRNAs to silence gene expression in animal cells remain controversial. Our goal is to understand the molecular mechanism of miRNA-mediated gene silencing. more
Widespread and accelerating globalization processes have meant that modes and markers of diversity have become more enhanced. The current rising salience of ethnic and religious identities is emblematic of such developments. The Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity will be devoted to comparative research and theoretical analysis of historical and contemporary patterns of diversity in Europe and around the world. more
If many similar systems are coupled to each other, quite unexpected collective phenomena are sometimes observed. These are important in processes of pattern formation and emergence, as found in the universe as well as ubiquitously on earth. In order to understand these mechanisms, we study simple model systems, such as wet granular matter. A number of interesting similarities is found with well-understood equilibrium systems. This suggests a promising path for in-depth investigation of this lively field of research. more
Discussion on preparedness for a possible influenza pandemic is still ongoing. Authorities and public interest have now accelerated the development of alternative production systems to the classical egg-based production. New disposable bioreactors have been evaluated in the upstream processing group using different analytical tools comparing the influenza virus production with two different mammalian cells. These bioreactors show a potential for fast and simple up-scaling of production capacities in case of a pandemic. more
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