Yearbook 2011

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The occurrence of specialized natural products in single cells or cell types of plants and other organisms, the composition of the mixture of metabolites and their temporal concentration changes are challenging for chemical analytics because of tiny amounts of material. Despite it is of moderate sensitivity, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic methods are useful to precisely determine the spatio-temporal distribution of metabolites. This is feasible especially if NMR is applied in combination with laser microdissection. more
Larvae of the leaf beetle Chrysomela lapponica feed on birches or willows. Both beetle populations utilize precursor molecules of the plants to produce chemical defenses. As a toxin, the willow population produces salicylaldehyde. The birch population does not produce salicylaldehyde, since birches do not contain the precursor salicin. During evolution this resulted in a defect aldehyde producing enzyme, a salicylalcohol oxidase. The strong association of the leaf beetles with their host plants can be considered as the beginning of a newly emerging species. more

The power of quantum mechanics in modern steel design

Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH Hickel, Tilmann; Dick, Alexey; Neugebauer, Jörg; Sandlöbes, Stefanie; Raabe, Dierk
Modern steels show a rapid development: 2400 exist already, of which 2000 have been developed during the last decade. Steel grades that are strong and ductile at the same time, are of particular interest for automotive applications. How can a tailored design of such steels be achieved? Which processes occur at the atomic scale? And what is the role of carbon? Scientists at the MPI für Eisenforschung face these challenges with a two-fold strategy by exploiting the principles of quantum mechanics in theoretical as well as experimental methods. more
Nitrophorins comprise a unique class of metal containing proteins originating from blood sucking bugs. On bite they transport the gaseous signaling molecule nitric oxide (NO) into the tissue of a host. Application of various spectroscopic techniques reveals the molecular mechanisms that lead to specific NO delivery. Recent investigations demonstrate that the NO coordinating iron center is also able to produce NO from nitrite. Because NO causes the opening of blood vessels (vasodilatation), the understanding of these native NO transporting systems is of major pharmacological interest. more
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has long been domesticated by humans. It is an ideal organism for evolution experiments. It can grow rapidly to large population sizes, it has an interesting life cycle which includes both sexual and asexual stages, and it is extremely well understood as a laboratory model organism. But very little is known about its natural life. By studying S. paradoxus, a wild relative of S. cerevisiae, both in its natural environment and in the laboratory, we can understand more about how and why features of the life cycle such as sporulation, sex, and signalling evolved. more
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