Yearbook 2009

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Life, aging, and dying: A review across species

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research Schaible, Ralf; Rebke, Maren; Cassens, Insa; Scheuerlein, Alexander
The process of aging is more plastic than is commonly assumed and stipulated by classical theory on the evolution of aging. Deviations abound across the tree of life: There are species that do not age, and species that escape a steady increase in mortality. In some species, mortality even declines in certain phases of life. An analysis of these species’ life-history strategies may answer the question: How is it possible to live long? more
The diversity of today’s universe of proteins has developed via a multitude of small changes. Gene duplication provides the material for mutation and selection, while recombination contributes to the creation of diversity. These mechanisms are the basis for many successful protein engineering experiments. The amount of available sequence and structural data enables general assumptions about important factors in structure-function relationships. These findings are used in rational and computational design to build proteins with desired new properties. more
The basic features of the body organisation of adult plants are established during embryogenesis. This process starts from the fertilised egg cell (zygote), which divides into an apical embryonic cell and a basal extra-embryonic cell. This report describes how the embryonic cells generate, in response to the plant hormone auxin, a signal that stimulates the adjacent extra-embryonic cell to initiate the formation of the embryonic root meristem. In addition, attempts to study the origin of the very first difference between apical and basal cell fate are briefly discussed. more
PubMan ( is an application which allows members of a research organisation to store, manage and enrich their publications and provide the data for re-use by other web-services. The solution is based on the eSciDoc infrastructure, a joint project by the MPS and the FIZ Karlsruhe. The Department of Research & Development at the MPDL develops the solution and supports the users at the Max Planck Institutes. PubMan is introduced in the MPS since May 2009 and will gradually replace the current repository eDoc ( more
Over the last years three reasons have contributed to an increased interest in the concept of diversity: general tendencies towards individualization, increase in migration-based diversity, increase in value of antidiscrimination discourses. By confronting the academic challenges of ethnic and religious diversity, social scientific migration research opens itself towards research on society in general. more
The general principles that underlie the function and structure of the brain are not yet fully understood. Recent experimental findings put forward one of the theoretical hypothesis, namely that cortical networks are organized such that they keep themselves near the so called critical point. In many different contests it was shown, that the critical state can be beneficial for brain functions, for example by optimizing sensitivity to the external input. We study analytically and numerically how the neuronal network can reach and maintain criticality. more
Fuel cells offer a highly efficient way to generate electrical energy. Therefore they may be an important element in a future energy supply structure. However, the operation and control of fuel cell systems is quite demanding. This contribution illustrates typical challenges for control of fuel cell systems in different power ranges and outlines solution approaches. more
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