News

27.01.2017 MPI-BGC_Older and more diverse forests are more stable in taking up carbon dioxide
Plants take up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. Part of it is later released again by respiration. Overall, forests tend to take up more CO2 than they release. However, their strength to act as such carbon sink fundamentally depends on the forests’ potential to take up CO2 through photosynthesis. This property, called photosynthetic capacity, is highly variable between years and influenced by climate variability. Writing in Nature Ecology and Evolution, researchers now report that in old forests with high species richness the effect of climate variability on photosynthetic capacity is dampened. more...
 
20.01.2017 MPI-CE_Bodyguards in the gut have a chemical weapon
Symbiotic bacteria produce antibiotics to clear harmful pathogens from the gut of caterpillars

Beneficial bacteria in the gut of moth larvae produce an antimicrobial agent that kills competing bacteria which otherwise have detrimental effects on insect development. An international team of scientists under the direction of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, were able to demonstrate for the first time that symbiotic Enterococcus mundtii bacteria secrete the antimicrobial peptide mundticin. It enters harmful germs in the gut of the African cotton leafworm Spodoptera littoralis and kills the unicellular organisms. The symbionts thus ensure a healthy gut flora and reduce the infection risk of the pest insect. (Cell Chemical Biology, January 2017, DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2016.11.015) more...
 
18.01.2017 MPI-BGC_Water as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
Currently terrestrial ecosystems absorb about one quarter of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. However, how this land carbon sink will develop in the future is uncertain and strongly depends on the responses of ecosystems to climate. New clues on how the land carbon sink is regulated have now been revealed by researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany: When looking at the global scale, the annual carbon balance largely responds to temperature, while locally water availability turns out to be the dominant factor. Their study also highlights that compensation effects of water availability lead to the differences seen between local and global scales.  more...
 
19.12.2016 MPI-BGC_Observing atmospheric methane - 12 years of analysis
An international consortium of multi-disciplinary scientists has compiled a synthesis of the global methane budget, documenting and analyzing its enigmatic changes since the year 2000. Unlike carbon dioxide, in the late 1990s the growth rate of methane slowed to zero, and scientists struggled to explain this unexpected change. After a period of stability until around 2006, the amount of methane in the atmosphere began to rise again. Since 2014 atmospheric methane concentrations are rising at a faster rate than at any time in the previous two decades, approaching the most greenhouse-gas-intensive scenarios proposed. The reasons for this increase are hotly debated.  more...
 
01.12.2016 MPI-BGC_Vegetation and climate researcher receives Beutenberg Campus award
Matthias Forkel, former doctoral student at Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, is this year’s winner of the Beutenberg Campus science award in the category „outstanding dissertation”. He will be honored for his investigations on the influence of the Northern biosphere on the rise of the seasonal fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide. His work could confirm the linkage between climate and vegetation dynamics.  more...
 
16.11.2016 FLI_1,60 million euro for aging researcher in Jena - Francesco Neri is awarded Sofia Kovalevskaja Award
In acknowledgement of his research, junior researcher Francesco Neri from Jena, Germany, was awarded the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award on November 15, 2016, in Berlin. The prize, which is granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, is one of the most prestigious science awards in Germany and will be used to study the molecular causes of cancer in old age. more...
 
15.11.2016 MPI-BGC_Record growth in atmospheric CO2, in spite of stable anthropogenic emissions, due to weaker sinks
In spite of almost no growth in emissions, the growth in atmospheric CO2 concentration was at a record-high in 2015 and could be a record high again in 2016, at 23 and 25 Gt CO2 per year, respectively, compared to an average of 16 Gt CO2 per year in the previous decade. Atmospheric CO2 levels have exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015, 44% above pre-industrial levels [data NOAA/ESRL]. This is the highest level in at least the last 800,000 years. more...
 
15.11.2016 MPI-BGC_Large-scale wind energy slows down winds and reduces turbine efficiencies
Wind energy has been remarkably successful in providing an increasing share of cheap renewable energy. But can this trend continue to supply more and more renewable energy for decades to come? A new study published by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, lowers the expectations of wind energy when used at large scales.  more...
 
14.11.2016 MPI-CE_Plants modulate accumulation of metabolites at organ level
Scientists develop computational metabolomic approach to measure metabolic diversity in different plant tissues.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and the University of Heidelberg, Germany, illuminated the diversity and different accumulation of chemical substances in the tissues of the ecological model plant Nicotiana attenuata. For their results, they used computational metabolomics and information theory. This approach was specifically designed for this study and enabled the researchers to study plant metabolism at the level of single organs. This new method allows for a more efficient access to the diversity of plant metabolites and for a more rapid identification of the genes which regulate their biosynthesis. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, November 2016, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1610218113) more...
 
07.11.2016 MPI-CE_Dependency can be an evolutionary advantage
Bacteria which are adapted to their environment and depend on others grow better.
It is generally assumed that it is a good strategy for any kind of organism to be as independent from others as possible. A research team from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, has now been able to show experimentally that quite the contrary may be the case: As a matter of fact, autonomous bacteria which lose their ability to produce certain amino acids autonomously gain an advantage by becoming dependent on others who provide these nutrients. This means that not only the acquisition of new traits, but also the loss of certain abilities drives the evolutionary adaptation of bacteria – and possibly also of other organisms – to their environment (PLOS Genetics, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006364). more...
 
03.11.2016 MPI-CE_Plant roots in the dark see light
Light transmitted from the shoot to the roots activates photoreceptors in the roots and triggers light-dependent growth responses in plants.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and Seoul National University, South Korea, were able to show for the first time that roots react directly to light which is transmitted from the shoot to the underground parts of Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Roots can thus effectively adapt plant growth to the light conditions in the environment. (Science Signaling, November 2016, DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaf6530). more...
 
25.10.2016 MPI-BGC_Amazon rain helps make more rain
In the Amazon region, downdrafts bring aerosol particles from higher altitudes to the atmospheric layer where clouds form.

In a joint study international scientists investigated how clouds and hence rain develops over the Amazon tropical rain forest. They found out that the rain is generating further rain by downdrafts entraining fine particles from the upper atmospheric layers to the layer where clouds are formed. As, in this area, there are no cloud condensation particles from anthropogenic pollution, these findings are important to help understanding how precipitation developed in preindustrial times.  more...
 
14.10.2016 MPI-BGC_Biodiversity in forests increases productivity
In a worldwide study, published today in the journal ‚Science“, scientists investigated the influence of species diversity on the productivity of natural forests. In total, data was collected from more than 770,000 plots across 44 countries and territories. The study took into account 8,737 tree species of the most diverse forest ecosystems, from mangroves over tropical moist forests to north and central European needle and deciduous forests, tundra and dry savannahs up to Mediterranean natural forests. Results show that species loss leads to a massive cut in forest productivity. Sustainable managed forests with lower species richness can have a high productivity though. more...
 
13.10.2016 MPI-CE_Choosing a mate: It's the brain, not the nose, that knows
Changes in the brain determine mate choice in the European Corn Borer, an important pest of maize

How does a male moth find the right sort of female for mating, when there are two similar types luring him with their pheromones? In many species, differences in the antenna used by the male to smell these perfumes are responsible for his choice. But in the European Corn Borer, changes in the male's brain seem to dictate his choice between two types of available females, as shown by researchers from the University of Amsterdam, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Early Edition, October 3, 2016, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1610515113). more...
 
22.09.2016 MPI-CE_The architecture of odor perception: Olfactory glomeruli have a unique structure
The basic units of the olfactory system in the brain of Drosophila melanogaster provide references to their function and ecological relevance. more...
 
29.08.2016 MPI-CE_Moth takes advantage of defensive compounds in Physalis fruits
The berries act as immune boosters in the moth Heliothis subflexa, a specialist on this food
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology found that the specialist moth Heliothis subflexa benefits from secondary plant components by turning the original defensive function of these compounds into its own advantage. Withanolides, which are present in Physalis plants, usually act as immune suppressants and feeding deterrents in insects. Surprisingly, Heliothis subflexa uses these plant defenses as immune-system boosters. Moreover, withanolides protect the moth from harmful effects caused by pathogenic bacteria. The new study demonstrates a unique benefit to host-plant specialization (Nature Communications, August 2016, doi: 10.1038/NCOMMS12530). more...
 
18.08.2016 MPI-BGC_Nature’s diversity and complexity benefit society
New research confirms that diversity and complexity in nature benefit human well-being. Nature’s ability to simultaneously provide multiple services for society such as fresh water, nutrient cycling, pest control, or food production, etc. is greatly enhanced when high species diversity at various trophic levels (carnivores, herbivores, detritivores etc.) is maintained. more...
 
30.06.2016 MPI-CE_Jasmonate-deficient tobacco plants attract herbivorous mammals
Coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) produces a potent neurotoxic substance: nicotine. The production of nicotine is regulated by plant hormones called jasmonates. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Washington State University have now demonstrated the importance of jasmonate-dependent nicotine production for the survival of tobacco plants which are attacked by mammalian herbivores. Through experiments with genetically modified plants that are impaired in their ability to produce jasmonates, the researchers showed that jasmonate-deficiency strongly increases attacks by both insects and vertebrates. Interestingly, insect attack did not significantly affect flower production and attacked plants were still able to produce seeds, whereas attack by herbivorous mammals had a strong negative impact on the plants’ reproductive ability. The scientists found that nicotine plays a crucial role in this context. Especially rabbits liked to peel the stems of nicotine-deficient plants, which strongly reduced flower production. However, when nicotine accumulates in the outer layers of the stem epidermis, it provides extremely effective protection against this type of damage. The study published in the journal eLife illustrates the importance of jasmonate-dependent defenses to provide protection against mammalian herbivores in nature. (eLife, June 2016, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.13720). more...
 
07.06.2016 FSU-IAP_Robert Keil receives one of the first Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers
In honor of the 200th anniversary of Carl Zeiss the Ernst Abbe Fund tendered the “Carl Zeiss Award for Young Researchers" this year.

This prize should dignify promising young scientists in the field of optics and photonics, who have published outstanding scientific work in an internationally recognized scientific journal at least in the first three years after their graduation.  more...
 
01.06.2016 Fraunhofer IOF_Space optics from Jena shown at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2016
The International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) in Berlin takes a leading role for the entire aerospace world: from 1 – 4 June, ILA is the meeting point for deci-sion-makers from politics, economy, science and research for target-oriented exchange. This year’s main topics are "Sustainability" and "Technological Innovations". Therefore Fraunhofer IOF will present freeform- and metalop-tics for space research. more...
 
31.05.2016 MPI-CE_Stick insects produce bacterial enzymes themselves
Many animals depend on their microbiome to digest their food. Symbiotic microorganisms produce enzymes their hosts cannot, and these work alone or together with the animals’ own enzymes to break down their food. Many plant-feeding insects need microbial enzymes, such as pectinases, that degrade plant cell walls; yet some insects have overcome this dependency in a surprising way. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, found that stick insects make microbial enzymes themselves. From an ancestral gut microbe, the genes for the essential enzymes simply “jumped” as they are to their insect host. The researchers report this newly discovered “horizontal gene transfer” in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports. (Scientific Reports, May 2016, DOI: 10.1038/srep26388) more...
 
29.05.2016 HKI_Moulds and plants share similar ways in alkaloid biosynthesis
The fungus Aspergillus fumigatus produces a group of previously unknown natural products. With reference to plant isoquinoline alkaloids, these substances have been named fumisoquins. Researchers from Jena discovered the novel substances together with their American colleagues while studying the fungal genome. The family of isoquinoline alkaloids contains many pharmacologically active molecules. This study, which has just been published in Nature Chemical Biology, shows that fungi and plants developed biosynthetic pathways for these complex molecules independently of each other. These findings make Aspergillus an interesting target for the discovery of novel drugs and their biotechnological production. more...
 
27.05.2016 MPI-CE_Hawk moths have a second nose for evaluating flowers
Flowers without scent produce fewer seeds, although they are visited as often by pollinators as are flowers that do emit a scent. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, made this surprising observation, when they studied tobacco plants that have been silenced in their ability to produce floral volatiles. The researchers showed that floral scent is crucial for successful pollination: Manduca sexta hawk moths, the most important pollinators of the wild tobacco species Nicotiana attenuata, use their proboscis to smell the floral volatiles when they visit flowers. The olfactory neurons involved in the perception of these volatiles have now been discovered to be located on the Manduca proboscis. Only when flowers produced volatiles did the moths stay long enough to drink nectar, and only when they stayed long enough did they deliver enough pollen on their proboscis to successfully pollinate other scenting flowers. These results have now been published in the journal eLife (eLife, May 2016, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.15039).  more...
 
23.05.2016 Fraunhofer IOF_Measure greenhouse gases from space
Space agencies examine the extent of greenhouse gases in the air via prisms and gratings in satellites.
New technology now makes it possible to connect both components with each other so that they are suitable for space.
New level of quality for spectral resolution has been achieved. more...
 
23.05.2016 MPI-CE_Scent guides hawk moths to the best-fitting flowers
That the morphology of many pollinators corresponds strikingly to the shape of the flowers they pollinate was observed more than 150 years ago by Charles Darwin. He described this perfect mutual adaptation of flowers and pollinators as the result of a co-evolutionary process. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now provided further proof of the famous naturalist’s theory. They were able to show that Manduca sexta moths acquired the highest energy gain when they visited flowers that matched the length of their proboscis. The moths were supported in their choice of the best-fitting nectar sources by an innate preference for the scent of matching flowers. The results of this study have been published in the journal Nature Communications (Nature Communications, May 2016, doi: 10.1038/NCOMMS11644). more...
 
25.04.2016 HKI_Candidalysin – the first toxin of Candida albicans
In a pioneering study, scientists in Jena, Borstel, Aberdeen and London have discovered a toxin in the fungus Candida albicans, which plays a crucial role during human mucosal infection. Their discovery is has now been published in the journal Nature. more...
 
10.03.2016 MPI-CE_How stick insects handle indigestive food
Plant cell walls are comprised of many complex polymers that require multiple different enzymes to fully break down, such as cellulase to digest cellulose and xylanase to digest xylan. For decades scientists thought only microbes could produce cellulase, until cellulase genes were found in wood-feeding insects. Now, new research from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, overturns another old theory. The scientists discovered that stick insects (Phasmatodea) produce cellulases that can handle several types of cell wall polymers equally (Insect Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, February 2016). more...
 
03.03.2016 FSU_IAP TRADITION AT PHOTONICS WEST?!
Every year, the IAP scientists discuss their recent research results at the world largest photonics conference. And every time they return successfully from San Francisco - just as the three doctoral students Helena Kämmer, Sven Breitkopf and Thomas Gottschall this year. more...
 
08.01.2016 MPI-CE_The dandelion uses latex to protect its roots against insect feeding

Dandelions are troublesome weeds that are detested by most gardeners. Yet dandelions also have many insect enemies in nature. However, they are able to protect themselves with their latex, a milky, bitter-tasting sap. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and the University of Bern, Switzerland, have now demonstrated that a single compound in the latex protects dandelion roots against voracious cockchafer larvae. Thus, latex plays a crucial role in dandelion defense against root feeders. (PLOS Biology, January 2016, Open Access) more...
 
21.12.2015 MPI-CE_Their enemy’s sex pheromone helps flies protect their offspring
Females of the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster show an especially strong response to the odor of their most dangerous enemies, parasitic wasps of the genus Leptopilina. In nature, up to 80 percent of Drosophila larvae are parasitized by these wasps, which lay their eggs into the larvae. The wasps’ larvae grow and consume the Drosophila larvae from within. However, an innate early warning system alerts female flies when wasps are near and thus increases the chance the flies’ offspring will survive. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology identified the olfactory neuron in Drosophila which senses if enemies are nearby by recognizing their odors. The chemical compounds in the wasps trigger avoidance behavior in the flies. One of the compounds is the wasps’ sex pheromone. For the first time scientists have described an olfactory circuit entirely dedicated to the detection of a fatal enemy. (PLoS Biology, December 2015) more...
 
09.12.2015 MPI-CE_Cooperating bacteria isolate cheaters
In natural microbial communities, different bacterial species often exchange nutrients by releasing amino acids and vitamins into their growth environment, thus feeding other bacterial cells. Even though the released nutrients are energetically costly to produce, bacteria benefit from nutrients their bacterial partners provide in return. Hence, this process is a cooperative exchange of metabolites. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena have shown that bacteria, which do not actively contribute to metabolite production, can be excluded from the cooperative benefits. The research team demonstrated that cooperative cross-feeding interactions that grow on two-dimensional surfaces are protected from being exploited by opportunistic, non-cooperating bacteria. Under these conditions, non-cooperating bacteria are spatially excluded from the exchanged amino acids. This protective effect probably stabilizes cooperative cross-feeding interactions in the long-run. (The ISME Journal, December 2015) more...
 
08.12.2015 FSU-IAP_New OSA Fellows elected
„Fellows of The Optical Society” are elected based on their significant contributions to the advancement of optics and photonics. The OSA Fellow Members Committee reviews nominations submitted by means of several factors, including specific scientific, engineering, and technological contributions, a record of significant publications or patents related to optics, making the process both highly selective and competitive. more...
 
06.11.2015 HKI_Living in a lethal atmosphere
The group of Prof. Dr. Christian Hertweck from the Hans Knöll Institute in Jena has discovered the dually-functional clostrubins, antibiotic compounds, from anaerobic bacteria that infect and decompose potatoes. Their research uncovers the functions of the clostrubins, protecting the bacteria from an otherwise-lethal oxygenated environment, as well as being potent antibacterials against competitors. Their findings have now been published in the journal Science. more...
 
23.10.2015 MPI-CE_Reducing the sweetness to survive
Plants produce a large arsenal of toxic compounds in order fend off herbivorous insects. To make sure that the toxicity of these defensive substances will not harm the plants themselves, many plants add a sugar molecule to some of their toxins. Digestive enzymes called glycosidases in the insect gut usually cleave off this sugar to release the toxin − with harmful effects on the insects. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, now found the opposite mechanism: a defensive compound of the wild tobacco species Nicotiana attenuata which is toxic with sugar molecules bound to it and a glycosidase in the gut of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta which removes one sugar from this toxin to convert it to a non-toxic form. This is the first time that the role of deglycosylation in detoxification as an insect counter-adaptation could be shown (Nature Communications, October 2015). more...
 
19.10.2015 MPI-CE_A sex pheromone assembly line in Manduca sexta
Scientists from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague, Czech Republic, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, studied the pheromone chemistry of moths and discovered a new evolutionary mechanism: A single amino acid residue in desaturases − enzymes that introduce double bonds − of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta switches the desaturase products from mono- and di-unsaturated to tri-unsaturated sex pheromone precursors. The susceptibility of desaturases to major shifts in their specificities, due to minor mutations, may significantly contribute to the divergence in moth pheromone communication and so lead to the evolution of new insect species (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, October 2015).  more...
 
14.10.2015 VAAM Jahrestagung 2016 in Jena
ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016 of the Association for General and Applied Microbiology in Jena
March 13-16, 2016
Register now: http://www.vaam-kongress.de/ more...
 
09.10.2015 MPI-CE_Edible love gifts may influence female behavior
Male crickets offer nuptial gifts to their mating partners which may alter the females’ reproductive physiology and make them less likely to mate with other males according to research from the University of Exeter, UK, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany (PLOS ONE, October 2015). more...
 
25.08.2015 MPI-CE_A community of soil bacteria saves plants from root rot
Root bacteria are known to form symbiotic relationships with plants by improving the plants’ supply of nutrients. Yet as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, found recently, the bacteria actually play a much more profound role. During field experiments in Utah, in the western USA, researchers discovered that the right mixture of soil microbiota directly influences the survival of Nicotiana attenuata, a species of wild tobacco. Plants that had been unable to establish a protective alliance with the vitally important soil bacteria were susceptible to an infectious wilt disease that could kill them overnight. The pathogens that caused the disease had built up and spread because the researchers had been continuously growing this native plant in the same field. Moreover, a sterile medium had been used for germination before the plants had been planted out on the field, a procedure which prevented the plants from recruiting symbiotic bacteria early on, as they normally would do when germinating in nature. The results of the study emphasize the importance of crop rotation to prevent the buildup of soil borne diseases and reveal the complex ecology of plants, especially with respect to the multitude of beneficial and harmful microorganisms that interact with them. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 2015). more...
 
10.07.2015 MPI-CE_How flowers use scent and nectar to manipulate pollinators and herbivores
Some pollinators not only provide fertilization services for flowering plants, they also lay their eggs on the plants’ leaves after they have visited the flowers. Voracious caterpillars hatch from these eggs and their enormous appetite can easily kill the plants. So when plants advertise for pollinators they frequently also attract herbivores. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, demonstrated in field trials that the flowers of the coyote tobacco Nicotiana attenuata are able to solve this dilemma. The researchers showed that when flowers produce both scent and nectar and are visited by three different pollinators, their outcrossing increases, which is important for the gene flow between plants. Moreover, both floral traits influenced oviposition by the hawkmoth Manduca sexta, with the amount of nectar being even more influential than floral scent on the decision of female hawkmoths to lay eggs. Natural variations of scent biosynthesis and nectar secretion in wild tobacco populations, including plants whose flowers do not produce any nectar at all, may therefore ensure that the reproductive success is optimized while herbivores are kept at bay. For the first time, scientists examined these two floral traits, scent and nectar, and their influence on pollen vectors and herbivores simultaneously. (eLife, July 2015). more...
 
10.07.2015 FLI_License For Cutting: How Intracellular Signaling Regulates Growth Factor Production
Cancer cells need life-essential molecules to proliferate. These growth factors are activated by ectodomain shedding of precursor proteins on the outside of plasma membrane, mainly carried out by three human cleavage enzymes. A pharmaceutical blocking of these enzymes could hinder cancer from growing but would also inhibit other life-essential processes. Researchers from German Leibniz Institute for Age Research and Harvard University, US, showed that the factor-precursor-producing cells themselves define if cleavage may occur. This is decided by intracellular signaling. Interfering with defined signaling in cells producing cancer growth factors could lead to a new way of cancer treatment.  more...
 
26.06.2015 MPI-CE_The secret weapons of cabbages: Overcome by butterfly coevolution
An international team of researchers has used the power of genomics to reveal the mechanisms of an ancient and ongoing arms-race between butterflies and plants, played out in countless gardens around the world as green caterpillars devour cabbage plants. This study appears 50 years after a classic paper by Drs. Paul Ehrlich and Peter Raven that formally introduced the concept of coevolution using butterflies and plants as primary examples. The present study not only provides striking support for coevolution, but also provides fundamentally new insights into its genetic basis in both groups of organisms. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, June 2015). more...
 
23.06.2015 Fraunhofer IOF_Solutions with light – Fraunhofer IOF presents new research findings at the world’s leading exhibition LASER World of Photonics 2015 from 22th until 25th of June
Fiber lasers are a central component for the modern industry as well as health care. These lasers combine the advantages of high precision fabrication and contact free material handling. Thus, they are superior compared to conventional technologies. ontaktlosen Bearbeitung von Materialien und sind konventionellen Verfahren deutlich überlegen.  more...
 
23.06.2015 Fraunhofer IOF_Strategic Research Alliance between NKT Photonics and Fraunhofer IOF Jena for PCF Technologies
Birkerød, Denmark; Jena, Germany, June 23rd. 2015, NKT Photonics A/S and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF announce a strategic research alliance between both partners. Within the agreement NKT Photonics A/S licensed parts of its unique Photonic Crystal Fiber technology to the Fraunhofer IOF. more...
 
11.06.2015 MPI-CE_Symbiotic bacteria enabled bugs to feed on plant seeds and promoted species diversity
Insects are the most diverse animal group on earth. Many of them feed on plants, and they are constantly challenged by the diverse direct and indirect defenses of their food plants as well as an imbalanced nutrient composition. In response, the insects are continuously evolving different behavioral, morphological and biochemical adaptations to overcome the plant defenses. Additionally, some species rely on symbiotic microbes to deal with the plants’ nutritional challenges. Scientists of the Max Planck Research Group Insect Symbiosis and the Experimental Ecology and Evolution Group at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that acquiring a group of bacterial symbionts that are localized in the gut enabled a group of insects to successfully exploit a food source that was previously inaccessible to them and lead to the diversification within this new ecological niche (The ISME Journal, May 2015). more...
 
05.06.2015 FLI_ When the Evil Assumes Power: On the Dominance of Stem Cell Mutations in Age
Aging is characterized by a decrease in regenerative capacity and organ maintenance as well as an increasing risk of cancer which coincide with mutations in stem and progenitor cells. In a working paper, researchers of Leibniz Institute for Age Research – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI), Jena/Germany, University of Glasgow, UK, and Buck Institute for Research on Aging, USA, summarize and contrast international research results on the various cell-intrinsic mechanisms that lead to a clonal dominance of mutant stem and progenitor cells in aging tissues. The review will be published in the journal Cell Stem Cell on June 4th. more...
 
04.06.2015 MPI-CE_Feeding caterpillars make leaves shine
When a plant is attacked by herbivores, this triggers a number of physiological responses in the plant. Calcium ions are important messengers for the processing of wound signals in plant cells. They regulate signal transduction and indirectly control plant defense mechanisms. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and the Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Science of the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, have now succeeded in visualizing the immediate wound or herbivory responses in plants. They used Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) plants that produce a special protein which breaks down after the binding of calcium ions and emits free energy in the form of light. The amount of light corresponds to the calcium concentrations in the cells of the respective leaf areas. By using a highly sensitive camera system the researchers could track the calcium flow in the plants. Visualization revealed that calcium signals occur systemically and wander from attacked to neighboring leaves within a short period of time, and ultimately put the whole plant into a state of defense readiness. (New Phytologist, May 2015) more...
 
21.05.2015 MPI-CE_One simple molecule regulates sexual behavior in Drosophila
The common vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster is a very well-studied animal. For decades, the fly has been used as a model organism in genetic research; its genome was fully sequenced in 2000. However, until now researchers have failed to identify the specific pheromone in this species that leads to mating success. Although the pheromones that inhibit mating in Drosophila were known, the positive pheromone signal that elicits courtship behavior and mating remained a mystery. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have succeeded in identifying a relatively simple molecule that is able to regulate complex mating behavior in vinegar flies: a fatty acid methyl ester called methyl laurate. Verification was a result of the combination of state-of-the-art chemical analytic techniques, physiological measurements in the fly brain, and behavioral assays. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, May 2015) more...
 
13.05.2015 ANDREAS TüNNERMANN RECEIVES THE FIRST ERC ADVANCED GRANT OF THE UNIVERSITY
The Director of the Institute of Applied Physics, Prof. Dr. Andreas Tünnermann, has received the so-called "Advanced Grant" of the European Research Council (ERC) for the continuation of his work on laser physics research. The ERC had classified the research of A. Tünnermann as "excellent". The funds amounting to at least two million euros are now available to Tünnermann and his team over the next five years to further basic research in the field of fiber lasers. more...
 
18.03.2015 MPI-CE_Leaf odor attracts Drosophila suzukii
In 2014, more spotted-wing Drosophila suzukii than ever before were observed in Germany. This pest lays its eggs in fresh and ripening fruits before they are harvested. Infested fruits are often additionally infected with bacteria and fungi, and become unsuitable for sale and further processing. Currently, the only way to effectively control this pest insect is through the use of insecticides. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology have now identified a leaf odor which is highly attractive to Drosophila suzukii. Beta-cyclocitral lures the spotted-wing drosophila but no other related drosophilids. Researchers were able to measure the olfactory specialization of the insect to this leaf odor on the basis of the response of a certain sensillum. (Journal of Chemical Ecology, February 2015) more...
 
27.02.2015 MPI-CE_Fighting the Colorado potato beetle with RNA interference
Colorado potato beetles are a dreaded pest of potatoes all over the world. Since they do not have natural enemies in most potato producing regions, farmers try to control them with pesticides. However, this strategy is often ineffective because the pest has developed resistances against nearly all insecticides. Now, scientists from the Max Planck Institutes of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm and Chemical Ecology in Jena have shown that potato plants can be protected from herbivory using RNA interference (RNAi). They genetically modified plants to enable their chloroplasts to accumulate double-stranded RNAs (dsRNAs) targeted against essential beetle genes. (Science, February 2015).  more...
 
23.02.2015 MPI-CE_Bacteria network for food
It is well-known that bacteria can support each others’ growth and exchange nutrients. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and their colleagues at the universities of Jena, Kaiserslautern, and Heidelberg, however, have now discovered a new way of how bacteria can achieve this nutritional exchange. They found that some bacteria can form nanotubular structures between single cells that enable a direct exchange of nutrients (Nature Communications, February 2015). more...
 
27.01.2015 MPI-CE_Things smell good for a reason
Antioxidants are natural food ingredients that protect cells from harmful influences. Their main task is to neutralize so-called “free radicals” which are produced in the process of oxidation and which are responsible for cell degeneration. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and the University of Lund, Sweden, now show that vinegar flies are able to detect these protective substances by using olfactory cues. Odors that are exclusively derived from antioxidants attract flies, increase feeding behavior and trigger oviposition in female flies. (Current Biology, January 2015) more...
 
16.12.2014 MPI-CE_How the brain can distinguish good from bad smells
Whether an odor is pleasant or disgusting to an organism is not just a matter of taste. Often, an organism’s survival depends on its ability to make just such a discrimination, because odors can provide important information about food sources, oviposition sites or suitable mates. However, odor sources can also be signs of lethal hazards. Scientists from the BMBF Research Group Olfactory Coding at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that in fruit flies, the quality and intensity of odors can be mapped in the so-called lateral horn. They have created a spatial map of this part of the olfactory processing system in the fly brain and showed that the lateral horn can be segregated into three activity domains, each of which represents an odor category. The categories are good versus bad, as well as weak versus strong smells. These categorizations have a direct impact on the behavior of the flies, suggesting that the function of the lateral horn is similar to that of the amygdala in the brains of vertebrates. The amygdala plays a crucial role in the evaluation of sensory impressions and dangers and the lateral horn may also. (eLife, December 2014) more...
 
26.09.2014 MPI-BGC_ Carbon, linger on!
Plants play a crucial role in the global climate system, removing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the air and converting it into carbohydrates. Carbon can be stored for several years or even many decades in the ecosystem before it is converted back into CO2 and returned to the atmosphere. The average global carbon turnover time is 23 years, according to a new report published in Nature by an international research team headed by Nuno Carvalhais and Markus Reichstein from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. In the tropics, it takes just 15 years before a carbon atom is released back into the atmosphere; in higher latitudes, it takes 255 years. Surprisingly, the analysis revealed that precipitation is at least as important as temperature in determining the turnover time. The researchers also established that overall more carbon than was previously thought is stored in land ecosystems - especially in soil. more...
 
25.09.2014 MPI-CE_Zuckerwettstreit im Maisfeld
Sugars are usually known as energy storage units in plants and the insects that feed on them. But, sugars may also be part of a deadly game of tag between plant and insect according to scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Grasses and crops such as maize attach sugars to chemical defenses called benzoxazinoids to protect themselves from being poisoned by their own protective agents. Then, when an insect starts feeding, a plant enzyme removes the sugar to deploy the active toxin. The Max Planck scientists have now discovered why this defensive strategy fails to work against Spodoptera larvae. When the researchers examined the frass of these pests − pests that cause enormous crop damage −, they found the toxin with sugar still attached.  more...
 
05.06.2014 MPI-CE_Bill S. Hansson new vice president of the Max Planck Society
During the annual meeting of the Max Planck Society in Munich on June 5, the managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Bill Hansson, was elected vice president. He is the first person to accept this office who is not a German.  more...
 
05.05.2014 FLI_Brain development: Fate of brain progenitor cells hinges on getting the timing right
Just like musicians in a philharmonic orchestra look to the conductor for their cues, stem cells in charge of generating the dazzling number and variety of cells that build the developing brain rely on molecular signals to get the timing right. Now, scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Age Research add a new and unexpected mechanism to the list of cues that ensure that neural stem cells keep the beat. Their findings, published in the May 1, 2014, edition of the journal Cell Stem Cell, lay the groundwork for new approaches to stimulate the self-renewal and regenerative capacity of adult brain stem cells to treat neurodegeneration and other brain injuries.  more...
 
27.03.2014 MPI-CE_The first insects were not yet able to smell well

An insect’s sense of smell is vital to its survival. Only if it can trace even tiny amounts of odor molecules is it is able to find food sources, communicate with conspecifics, or avoid enemies. According to scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, many proteins involved in the highly sensitive odor perception of insects emerged rather late in the evolutionary process. The very complex olfactory system of modern insects is therefore not an adaptation to a terrestrial environment when ancient insects migrated from water to land, but rather an adaptation that appeared when insects developed the ability to fly. The results were published in the Open Access Journal eLife. (eLife, March 26, 2014, doi: 10.7554/elife.02115) more...
 
17.03.2014 MPI-CE_Nectar: a sweet reward from plants to attract pollinators
Evolution is based on diversity, and sexual reproduction is key to creating a diverse population that secures competitiveness in nature. Plants as largely immobile organisms had to solve a problem: they needed to find ways to spread their genetic material beyond individual flowers. To make sure that flying pollinators such as insects, birds and bats come to the flowers to pick up pollen, plants evolved special organs, the nectaries, to attract and reward the animals. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany) and their colleagues from Stanford and Duluth (USA) have identified the sugar transporter that plays a key role in plants’ nectar production. SWEET9 transports sugar into extracellular areas of the nectaries where nectar is secreted. Thus, SWEET9 may have been crucial for the evolution of flowering plants that attract and reward pollinators with sweet nectar. (Nature, March 16, 2014, doi: 10.1038/nature13082) more...
 
27.02.2014 FSU-IAP_Awards at the world’s largest conference on Photonics
Again, this year at the Photonics West, students of the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) research group Fiber & Waveguide Lasers could take back home awards for their work.  more...
 
19.02.2014 FSU-IAP_Hot times for ultra optics – HITECOM
Material conversion processes at high temperatures are of central importance in the provision of energy and chemical recyclables. For this, the importance of coal as a medium and long -term use option in Germany and around the world (China, India, South America, South Africa , Eastern Europe, Central Asia) rises again. But the challenge now is to develop methods that cope with the increasingly poorer fuel quality. more...
 
16.01.2014 MPI-CE_Ants Protect Acacia Plants Against Pathogens
The biological term “symbiosis” refers to what economists and politicians usually call a win-win situation: a relationship between two partners which is beneficial to both. The mutualistic association between acacia plants and the ants that live on them is an excellent example: The plants provide food and accommodation in the form of food bodies and nectar as well as hollow thorns which can be used as nests. The ants return this favor by protecting the plants against herbivores. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found that ants also keep harmful leaf pathogens in check. The presence of ants greatly reduces bacterial abundance on surfaces of leaves and has a visibly positive effect on plant health. Study results indicate that symbiotic bacteria colonizing the ants inhibit pathogen growth on the leaves. (New Phytologist, January 6, 2014, doi: 10.1111/nph.12664) more...
 
15.01.2014 FSU-IAP_ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to Jens Limpert
On January 3, 2014 the European Research Council (ERC) has announced that one of the highly prestigious ERC Consolidator Grants will be awarded to Jun. Prof. Dr. Jens Limpert, hosted by the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), for his research proposal on “Advanced Coherent Ultrafast Laser Pulse Stacking (ACOPS)”. ERC grants are awarded through open competition to projects headed by young and established top researchers who are working in Europe - the sole criterion for selection is scientific excellence. In particular, ERC Consolidator Grants shall boost the independent careers of such excellent researchers by providing adequate support at the critical stage where they are consolidating their own independent research team or program. Remarkably, this ERC grant on ACOPS exhibits the first time in history that such an ERC funding scheme was awarded twice to a Thuringian scientist – with the very first one, an ERC Starting Grant, being awarded already in 2009 to Jens Limpert. more...
 
07.01.2014 MPI-CE_Toxic Breath Keeps Spiders Away
Caterpillars use different strategies to protect themselves from their enemies; many are camouflaged, while others use their bright colors as warning signals, have stinging hairs or secrete toxic substances, some even take threatening postures. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology have now discovered a previously unknown protective mechanism: Tobacco hornworm larvae can exhale a small fraction of nicotine they ingest as they feed on tobacco leaves. To do so, they transfer some of the nicotine they ingest into their hemolymph (insect blood) from which a “defensive halitosis” is created that repels a major predator. These insights were made possible by combining molecular techniques with a natural history approach in field experiments in the native habitat of the study organisms. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, December 30; 2013, DOI 10.1073/pnas.1314848111)
 more...
 
11.12.2013 MPI-CE_Toxic Substances in Banana Plants Kill Root Pests
Bananas are a major food staple for about 400 million people in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, banana yields worldwide are severely threatened by pests. Dirk Hölscher from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and an international team of researchers have discovered that some banana varieties accumulate specific plant toxins in the immediate vicinity of root tissue that has been attacked by the parasitic nematode Radopholus similis. This local accumulation is crucial for the plant’s resistance to this pest organism. The toxin is stored in lipid droplets in the body of the nematode and the parasite finally dies. These findings provide important clues for the development of pest-resistant banana varieties. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, December 9; 2013, DOI 10.1073/pnas.1314168110) more...
 
09.12.2013 MPI-CE_Intracellular ABC Transporters Enable Leaf Beetle Larvae to Accumulate Defensive Precursors When Feeding
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have discovered the decisive biological stimulator for the accumulation of defensive substances in leaf beetle larvae used by the insects to fend off predators: ABC transport proteins, which are found in large quantities in glandular cells of the larvae. The poplar leaf beetle Chrysomela populi is able to transport salicin, which is found in its leafy diet and is absorbed in its midgut, via several cell membranes into its defensive glands, where the substance is converted into the defensive compound salicyl aldehyde. The research results not only shed light on the molecular evolution of the defensive system in leaf beetle larvae but also help to elucidate cell biological processes of sequestration in animal tissues. (eLIFE, December 3, 2013, DOI: 10.7554/eLife.01096) more...
 
06.12.2013 MPI-CE_Preference for Oranges Protects Fruit Flies from Parasites
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is pickier than previously thought when it comes to when it comes to choosing the best site for egg-laying. Using behavioral assays, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and their colleagues in Nigeria discovered that the insects prefer the smell of citrus. This preference is controlled by one single odorant receptor. In nature, laying eggs on oranges is advantageous, because parasitoid wasps feeding on the larvae of Drosophila avoid citrus fruits. The same smell that is attractive to the flies also repels the wasps. The scientists used imaging techniques to visualize the activity in certain areas of the flies’ brains while these were stimulated with different odors, and they were able to localize and identify the receptor for citrus. Flies in which this receptor was silenced were no longer able to distinguish oranges from other fruits. (Current Biology, December 5, 2013, DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.047) more...
 
21.11.2013 MPI-CE_Captive Breeding for Thousands of Years Has Impaired Olfactory Functions in Silkmoths
Domesticated silkmoths Bombyx mori have a much more limited perception of environmental odors compared to their wild relatives. The extremely sensitive olfactory detection of pheromones in males eager to mate, however, remains unaltered. more...
 
09.09.2013 MPI-CE_Ian Baldwin Elected Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
At the annual institute symposium on September 12, 2013, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, will celebrate the election of Prof. Ian T. Baldwin to both the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and the German Leopoldina. Election to these scientific elite societies honors his distinguished achievements in plant ecology by integrating whole organismic-expertise into the study of gene function. In his Department of Molecular Ecology, Ian Baldwin is training a new generation of biologists who are able to utilize field studies in order to understand gene functions, particularly those that allow plants to survive in the rough and tumble of the real world.  more...
 
11.07.2013 MPI-CE_Optimizing Microbe Factories
A joint research project of the Max Planck and Fraunhofer Societies has received substantial financial support enabling scientists to open the door for new discoveries with immediate industrial applications. In the next three years, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, Aachen, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, will join forces for a common project: the optimization of the MEP pathway. Microbes and plant chloroplasts use this metabolic route to produce a diversity of active compounds including many substances humans have been employing as pharmaceuticals, crop protection compounds and industrial materials for thousands of years. However, the purification or chemical synthesis of these compounds requires extensive efforts. Therefore the goal of the joint project is to utilize bacteria with an optimized MEP pathway to improve the biosynthetic yield of various natural products. more...
 
20.06.2013 FSU-IAP_Ultrafast source of attosecond light flashes for fundamental science
Investigation and observation of ever smaller scales and faster processes requires the development of new measurement techniques. The observation of electrons in atoms and molecules is of particular importance, since they facilitate important chemical, biological and physical processes. Decoding of such processes allows a deeper understanding of fundamental physical theories such as quantum mechanics or atomic and molecular physics, but also promotes technological improvements.  more...
 
18.06.2013 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft receives 2013 Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation
This year, the Max Planck Society was honoured for its dedication to international cooperation, following in the footsteps of renowned institutions such as the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent Movement (winners of 2012); the World Health Organisation (winners of 2009); or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (winners of 2006). In its statement the jury applauded "the European vocation of the Society, its interdisciplinary approach and the close cooperation among research centres and universities around the world". more...
 
04.06.2013 MPI-CE_Female moths use olfactory signals to choose the best egg-laying sites
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany, discovered that the ability of Manduca sexta moths to recognize changes in the profile of volatile compounds released by plants being attacked by Manduca caterpillars allows them to lay their eggs on plants that are less likely to be attacked by insects and other predators, and to avoid competing against other caterpillars of the same species for resources. The results of field experiments and neurobiological studies were now published in the open access online journal eLIFE. (eLIFE, May 14, 2013, DOI: 10.7554/elife.00421) more...
 
30.04.2013 IPHT_Miniaturized Laser Microscope Assists in the Diagnosis of Cancer
The winners of the Thuringian Research Award this year will receive yet another honor: Their article will appear among other particularly valuable contributions in the renowned British Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal of chemistry “Analyst.” The Jena research scientists were successful in combining several imaging methods into one handheld device to be used in the diagnosis of cancer.
 
18.03.2013 MPI-CE_Transistor in the Fly Antenna
Highly developed antennae containing different types of olfactory receptors allow insects to use minute amounts of odors for orientation towards resources like food, oviposition sites or mates. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now used mutant flies and for the first time provided experimental proof that the extremely sensitive olfactory system of fruit flies − they are able to detect a few thousand odor molecules per milliliter of air, whereas humans need hundreds of millions − is based on self-regulation of odorant receptors. Even fewer molecules below the response threshold are sufficient to amplify the sensitivity of the receptors, and binding of molecules shortly afterwards triggers the opening of an ion channel that controls the fly’s reaction and flight behavior. This means that a below threshold odor stimulation increases the sensitivity of the receptor, and if a second odor pulse arrives within a certain time span, a neural response will be elicited. (PLOS ONE, March 12, 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058889)  more...
 
28.02.2013 First open campus starts on March 1st, 2013
The institutions located at the Beutenberg campus have a wide range of complementary skills and needs within the fields of Life science and Physics. The Beutenberg Campus Jena e.V. encourages interdisciplinary scientific projects, development of patents and start up companies as well as career paths moving between campus institutions. For these purposes it is important that the scientists keep updated regarding the methods and concepts available in the other institutes. To facilitate such exchange of information, the Beutenberg Campus organization, together with the institutions, will offer a yearly, campus internal, open house event where two institutions at a time get the opportunity to introduce them selves to the rest of the campus.

The 1st open campus will focus on the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. more...
 
28.02.2013 MPI-CE_Metal Ions Regulate Terpenoid Metabolism in Insects
Max Planck scientists in Jena, Germany, have discovered an unusual regulation of enzymes that catalyze chain elongation in an important secondary metabolism, the terpenoid pathway. In the horseradish leaf beetle Phaedon cochleariae a single enzyme can trigger the production of two completely different substances depending on whether it is regulated by cobalt, manganese or magnesium ions: iridoids, which are defensive substances the larvae use to repel predators, or juvenile hormones, which control insect’s development. Insects unlike plants do not have a large arsenal of the proteins called isoprenyl diphosphate synthases. Therefore they may have developed another efficient option to channel metabolites into the different directions of terpenoid metabolism by using metal ions for control. (PNAS, Early Edition, February 25, 2013, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1221489110) more...
 
01.02.2013 IPHT_IPHT Director Prof. Dr. Jürgen Popp Honored for Special Contributions to Research and Education
For his notable achievements in the field of analytical chemistry in Europe, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Popp – director of the Institute of Photonic Technology – will have the honor of holding the “Robert Kellner lecture” at the EUROANALYSIS XVII conference in Warsaw in August.
 
28.01.2013 IPHT Jena and Its Partners Score Again Big with the Thuringian Research Award
Similar to 2011, the Institute of Photonic Technology brought home the Thuringian Research Award again in 2012 with two projects. One award in the applied research category went to a novel microscopic method for clinical application. The transfer award went to a project on the survey of deep natural mineral deposits.
 
20.12.2012 MPI-CE_Not without my microbes
GApart from the common European cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha), the European forest cockchafer (Melolontha hippocastani) is the most common species of the Melolontha genus. These insects can damage huge areas of broadleaf trees and conifers in woodlands and on heaths. Cockchafers house microbes in their guts that help them to digest their woody food, such as lignocelluloses and xylans. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now performed comprehensive RNA analyses and identified the microbiota of cockchafer larvae feeding on roots and of the adult beetles feeding on leaves. Surprisingly, the guts of adult beetles house the same microbial species that were present in the larval midgut − despite having metamorphosized from larva to beetle. These microbes include clostridia as well as other bacterial species that are as yet unknown. Moreover, only a small percentage of the microbes living in the gut originated from the roots or leaves the larvae or beetles were feeding on. These microbes seem to be characteristic bacterial symbionts with which the forest cockchafer has long been associated. (PLoS ONE, December 10, 2012; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051557) more...
 
11.12.2012 MPI-CE_A direct line through the brain to avoid rotten food – a full STOP signal for Drosophila
Consuming putrid food can be lethal as it allows bacterial pathogens to enter the digestive system. To detect signs of decay and thus allowing us and other animals to avoid such food poisoning is one of the main tasks of the sense of smell. Behavioral scientists and neurobiologists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now for the first time decoded the neural mechanisms underlying an escape reflex in fruit flies (Drosophila) activated in order to avoid eating and laying eggs in food infected by toxic microorganisms.  more...
 
21.11.2012 MPI-CE_Herbivore defense in ferns
They dominated the earth for 200 million years and numerous different species can still be found all over the world: mosses, horsetails and ferns. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found out that bracken ferns (Pteridium aquilinum) do not release any volatiles when they are attacked − unlike many of the now dominant and evolutionary younger flowering plants. Such an emission of volatile compounds may attract the pest insects’ enemies, such as ichneumon wasps or predatory bugs, that parasitize herbivores. Nevertheless, volatile emission could be also elicited in fern fronds, if they had been treated with plant hormone jasmonic acid. Jasomonic acid induces the synthesis of volatile substances in flowering plants. This suggests that ferns can in principle mobilize this kind of defense reaction. However, they do not use this indirect defense to fend off herbivores. (PLOS ONE, November 20, 2012; doi:10.1371/journal.pone0048050) more...
 
16.11.2012 MPI-CE_Researchers Use GPS Tracking to Monitor Crab Behavior
Researchers from Jena and Greifswald used GPS satellites for a long-term behavioral monitoring of land crab migration on Christmas Island. In cooperation with colleagues from the Zoological Institute at the University of Greifswald, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, used a GPS-based telemetric system to analyze movements of freely roaming robber crabs, which is the first large-scale study of any arthropod using GPS technology to monitor behavior.  more...
 
16.11.2012 IPHT_Fiber-based Spectroscopy – A Key to the Individual Treatment of Vascular Diseases
Scientists at the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) are researching a method to spectroscopically characterize the biochemical composition of arteriosclerotic plaque in the blood vessels. With the latest spectroscopic methods and the most modern fiber technology, patients should be able to be gently tested for biochemical changes in the vascular walls in the future. This is an important contribution to the individual treatment of plaque deposits.
 
12.11.2012 IPHT_Molecules, Light, and Life: Manfred-Eigen Talks in Jena
Over 70 young scientists and distinguished researchers from 10 different countries have been getting together since Monday afternoon to join in the Manfred-Eigen talks at the Jena Rosensäle. This event was organized this year by the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) and the University of Jena. International experts have been presenting their work on the topics of photocatalysis and single-molecule biophysics. more...
 
07.11.2012 IPHT_Biophotonics Unites: Jürgen Popp Received Honorary Doctorate in Romania
Jürgen Popp, director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry (IPC) at the University of Jena and scientific director of the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) in Jena, received an honorary doctorate from the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca for extraordinary scientific achievements and innovations in the field of biophotonics and his devotion to academic exchange between Germany and Romania.
 
01.10.2012 Research Scientist at IPHT Distinguished for Achievement in Particle Sorting Method
Dr. Silvio Dutz from the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) was honored by the German Society for Biomedical Engineering (DGBMT) for his poster on the development of a chip system used in splitting particles in the micrometer range. The particles have a large range of application as a carrier of pharmaceutical agents.
 
28.09.2012 Research Campus Comes to Jena: InfectoGnostics Strengthens Research Hub
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, that the research hub of Jena will receive a grant of up to 30 million euros to erect the research campus, InfectoGnostics.
 
14.09.2012 IPHT_Three Times a Champion – The Best Graduates at IPHT
Three young researchers from the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) were distinguished for their excellent master’s theses. The prizes are awarded in collaboration with Sparkasse.
 
13.09.2012 MPI-CE_Insecticide Resistance Caused by Recombination of Two Genes
Insecticide resistance in crop pests is a serious global problem. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now found out what causes the strong resistance of an Australian strain of cotton bollworms (Helicoverpa armigera) to fenvalerate. The larvae evolved a novel enzyme capable of detoxifying fenvalerate in one single chemical reaction from the group of so-called P450 monooxygenases. The gene encoding the enzyme is a chimera − a ombination of parts of two precursor genes. (PNAS, Early Edition, September 4th, 2012. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1202047109) more...
 
30.08.2012 VHS goes Beutenberg
"Office-Days at Beutenberg" - a cooperation between the Volkshochschule Jena and the Beutenberg-Campus Jena e.V. that provide a joint offers of courses beginning in September 2012.  more...
 
28.08.2012 IPHT_New Spectroscopic Method of Measurement Used in Solar Fuel Research
Detailed measurements of a chemical reaction accelerated by laser light were able to be performed for the first time at the molecular level. With the help of a special microscope, research scientists at the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) and the University of Jena, in collaboration with colleagues from Utrecht University, studied photocatalysis at a resolution that has never been achieved before. The results, which were published in the renowned “Nature Nanotechnology” journal on August 19, 2012, may contribute to the development of profitable solar fuels.
 
07.08.2012 IPHT’s Sensors on Mars
After traveling more than 254 days through space and undergoing a risky landing maneuver, the NASA probe “Curiosity” arrived safely on Mars. Sensors from the Institute of Photonic Technology are on board the Rover. [The PDF below contains the full German press release]  more...
 
06.08.2012 Markus Reichstein has been appointed to the new director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena
Global Interactions between Climate, Soil and Vegetation
Markus Reichstein has been appointed to the new director at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. more...
 
04.07.2012 MPI-CE_Humidity increases odor perception in terrestrial hermit crabs
Max Planck scientists have found out that the olfactory system in hermit crabs is still underdeveloped in comparison to that of vinegar flies. While flies have a very sensitive sense of smell and are able to identify various odor molecules in the air, crabs recognize only a few odors, such as the smell of organic acids, amines, aldehydes, or seawater. Humidity significantly enhanced electrical signals induced in their antennal neurons as well as the corresponding behavioral responses to the odorants. The olfactory sense of vinegar flies, on the other hand, was not influenced by the level of air moisture at all. Exploring the molecular biology of olfaction in land crabs and flies thus allows insights into the evolution of the olfactory sense during the transition from life in water to life on land. (Proc. R. Soc. B, June 2012)  more...
 
28.06.2012 First Prizes in Thuringia, then Honors in the U.S.A.: Research Scientist at IPHT Named Professor in Nebraska
PD Dr. Volker Deckert, who was just recently responsible for the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) in Jena receiving the distinction of “Selected Landmark in the Land of Ideas” for his research, was called to be an associate professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).
 
27.06.2012 IPHT_Low-Flying Squids? Research Scientists at IPHT to Measure the Thuringian Basin using SQUIDs
The most sensitive magnetic field sensors in the world will be used in the coming months to analyze the Thuringian Basin aerially. The instruments developed at the Institute of Photonic Technology (IPHT) will measure deviations in the earth’s magnetic field and provide geophysicists and geologists with valuable information about subterranean water and material flows as part of the INFLUINS joint research project.  more...
 
12.06.2012 MPI-BGC_Warming accelerates decomposition of decades-old carbon in forest soils, and subsequent release of CO2
Soils store more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. Upon microbial decomposition, carbon can be released again as CO2 into the atmosphere, but its residence time in the soils is largely unknown. more...
 
11.06.2012 Wacker Biotech- und XL-protein-Studie zeigt: ESETEC® ermöglicht hocheffiziente Produktion von PASylierten Biopharmazeutika
Wacker Biotech und XL-protein haben eine Machbarkeitsstudie zur Herstellung PASylierter therapeutischer Proteine mit der auf E. coli basierenden ekretionstechnologie ESETEC® von WACKER erfolgreich abgeschlossen. more...
 
06.06.2012 MPI-CE_How plants make cocaine
Cocaine is one of the most commonly used (and abused) plant-derived drugs in the world, but we have almost no modern information on how plants produce this complex alkaloid. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have just discovered a key reaction in cocaine formation in the coca plant from South America, and identified the responsible enzyme. This enzyme was shown to belong to the aldo-keto-reductase protein family revealing some exciting new insights into the evolution of cocaine biosynthesis. (PNAS, Early Edition, June 4, 2012, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1200473109) more...