Yearbook 2015

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Flowers are reproductive plant organs, essential for the reproduction and dispersion of the respective species. The required visual and olfactory communication with the pollinators is mediated by floral pigments and scent. In both cases, chemicals serve as information transmitters. For their service, the pollinators are rewarded with nectar and pollen, which are rich in valuable nutrients such as sugars, proteins and lipids. The qualitative and quantitative chemical analysis of the different flower constituents is one of the missions of chemical ecology. more
Calcium ions (Ca2+) represent the most important intracellular second messengers in the signaling networks of plants. After herbivore damage the opening of specific ion channels achieve a rapid transient increase of the cytoplasmatic Ca2+-level. The enhanced concentrations can be monitored in planta after expression of the bioluminescent Aequorin, that emits light upon binding of Ca2+-ions. The signal spreads with ca. 1-2 cm/min in the directly connected vascular system and corresponds with the speed of electrical signals triggered by herbivore damage. more
The systematic search of new materials solely based on computers as well as the development of the required highly accurate simulation tools is a major research topic at the MPI für Eisenforschung. In the present article, the approach is introduced using the example of magnetocaloric materials, which are explored to achieve new and energy efficient cooling strategies. For this purpose the complex interaction of two thermodynamic excitation mechanisms – the vibration of atoms in a crystalline lattice and the disorder of magnetic moments – is analyzed and systematically exploited. more
How does nature produce hydrogen? Are the natural systems suitable for usage in a future hydrogen economy? Which properties should catalyst materials have in order to be applicable in industrial processes? How do the presently available catalysts function at the molecular level? Do we understand their catalytic mechanism sufficiently well and how can these catalysts be improved? The MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion is dedicated to answering these fundamental questions important for energy conversion and storage.  more
Theoretical considerations and experimental findings suggest that the cerebral cortex uses a principle for the encoding and processing of information that is still little explored. It is based on the high dimensionality of dynamic states of recurrent networks. more
Modeling the evolution of full genomes in populations is a methodological challenge because of the large number of recombination and mutation events to be accounted for. For that purpose, new models have been developed that introduced simplifications to the standard coalescent theory. When applied to closely related species, these models have shed new light on the speciation process that led to our own species, some 6 Million years ago. In order to be applied to a broader range of organisms, current models need to integrate complex demographic scenarios with heterogenous genomic landscapes. more
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