Max Planck Institute News

Researchers Discover a Group of Local, Inhibitory Interneurons in the Fruit Fly

July 21, 2015

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A New Type of Neuron is Responsible for Selective Motion Vision

A team of researchers has discovered a new type of neuron is responsible for selective motion vision in fruit flies. Motion despite immobility. The illusion of self-motion is created, for example, in an IMAX cinema with the help of large-format movies. This is possible, because the brain calculates self-motion from the visual surround moving past […]

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Scientists Discover a New Source of Greenhouse Gases

July 15, 2015

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Researchers Discover a New Source of Greenhouse Gases

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry reveal that lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria produce large amounts of nitrous oxide. Inconspicuous creatures surprise with a property that is important for our climate: Lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria release large quantities of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as laughing gas, and low quantities of […]

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How Scent and Nectar Influence Pollinators and Herbivores

July 13, 2015

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Flowers Use Scent and Nectar to Manipulate Pollinators

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology reveal 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 […]

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New Research Shows Having Kids Later is Associated with Higher Satisfaction Levels

July 7, 2015

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Having Kids Later Results in Happier Parents

A newly published study from the Max Planck Institute reveals that the satisfaction levels of parents depend not only on the number of children they have, but also on the point in time when they start a family. “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” according to one […]

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Cancer Drug Prolongs the Life of Fruit Flies, Could Do the Same for Humans

June 30, 2015

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Cancer Drug Prolongs Life

Using a cancer drug called Trametinib, biologists have extended the life expectancy in fruit flies by around twelve percent. The researchers believe that the substance could be used to develop future anti-aging drugs to extend life expectancy in humans. Humans, yeasts and fruit flies began to evolve separately millions of years ago. Nevertheless, the cellular […]

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Cryogenic Storage Ring Reproduces the Chemical Conditions of Space

June 11, 2015

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First Experiment in the Cryogenic Storage Ring

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics conducted initial experiments in the Cryogenic Storage Ring. The Cryogenic Storage Ring can reproduce the chemical conditions in space in the laboratory. It is now easier to investigate space chemistry on Earth as well. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg […]

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A New Timetable of Evolution – Reappraisal of Hydrocarbon Biomarkers in Archean Rocks

June 4, 2015

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A New Timetable of Evolution

New data show that the first single-celled organisms with a nucleus originated more than a billion years later than biogeochemical evidence had previously indicated. Contaminated samples have evidently created some confusion in the timetable of life. On the basis of ultra-clean analyses, an international team, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, has […]

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Rare Quasar Quartet Reveals Massive Structure in Distant Universe

May 22, 2015

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Quasar Quartet Reveals Rare Massive Structure in Distant Universe

Astronomers have discovered four active black holes situated in close proximity to one another in the distant universe, surrounded by a giant nebula of cool dense gas. Using the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii, a group of astronomers led by Joseph Hennawi of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have discovered the first quadruple quasar: […]

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LBT Reveals Lava Lake on Jupiter’s Moon Io

May 12, 2015

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LBT Reveals Lava Lake on Io

The Large Binocular Telescope provides the first detailed observations of a lava lake on Jupiter’s moon Io. With the first detailed observations of a lava lake on a moon of Jupiter, the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory in Arizona places itself as the forerunner of the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes. The applied high-resolution imaging […]

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Epithelial Cell-Cell Communication Crucial to Proper Kidney Function

April 30, 2015

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New Findings May Help Improve the Regeneration of Damaged Organs

Researchers identify molecules that help cells to pinpoint their position, allowing for the kidneys to function properly. For the kidneys to function flawlessly, millions of cells must be arranged precisely according to a specified blueprint. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim and Philipps-Üniversität Marburg have now discovered […]

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Modern Humans Triggered the Demise of Neanderthals

April 27, 2015

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Scientists Decipher the Demise of Neandertals

A newly published study reveals that Homo sapiens belonging to the Protoaurignacian culture may have been the ultimate cause for the demise of Neanderthals. Researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, analyzed two deciduous teeth from the prehistoric sites of Grotta di Fumane and […]

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Scientists Provide Novel Tools to Study Enzyme Catalysis

April 23, 2015

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Controlling Enzyme Reactions at Atomic Level

A newly published study details how scientists used a chemical probe to dissect individual catalytic steps of enoyl-thioester reductases, validating an active site tyrosine as the cryptic proton donor and explaining how it had eluded definitive identification. Enzymes are naturally existing biocatalysts of great potential for application in sustainable chemistry. Yet, controlling enzyme reactions at […]

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Oldest Known Human Ancestors May Have Had Precision Grip Capabilities

April 20, 2015

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Oldest Human Ancestors May Have Had Precision Grip Capabilities

Researchers present a kinematic model of thumb–index precision grip and manipulative movement based on bony hand morphology in a broad sample of extant primates and fossil hominins, revealing that even the oldest available fossil hominins may have shared comparable precision grip manipulation with modern humans. Scientists are coming to grips with the superior grasping ability […]

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New Method of High-Resolution Whole-Brain Staining

April 13, 2015

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New Staining Method to Reveal Circuit Diagram of the Brain

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have developed a special staining method that brings the reconstruction of all nerve cells and their connections within reach. Learning, it is widely believed is based on changes in the connections between nerve cells. The knowing which nerve cells is connected to which other nerve cell would […]

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Reg3beta Regulates Healing Process after Myocardial Infarction

March 25, 2015

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Reg3beta Controls Healing Process in the Heart

A new study from the Max Planck Institute details how Reg3beta controls the wound-healing process in the myocardium by attracting immune cells to the infarct tissue. In the wake of a myocardial infarction, parts of the myocardium die and are replaced by scar tissue. The formation and stability of scar tissue is key to the […]

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“Chemical Fingerprints” Could Help Scientists Recognize Life on the Surface of Exoplanets

March 20, 2015

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Surface Biosignatures of Exoplanets May Help Detect Extraterrestrial Life

A new catalog of reflectance spectra for a diverse range of pigmented microorganisms may help scientists recognize life on the surface of planets orbiting stars beyond our solar system. A team of astronomers and biologists has recorded the “chemical fingerprints” of 137 different species of microorganism. In future, this could help to recognize life on […]

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Merlin Protein Promotes Effective and Rapid Wound Healing

March 5, 2015

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Merlin Promotes Rapid Wound Healing

New research from the Max Planck Institute details how the protein merlin regulates collective cell movement, promoting effective and rapid wound healing. Cells also follow a herd instinct, and they thereby communicate in a magical collective way. This is because a protein known as merlin, named after the mythical wizard of medieval England, plays an […]

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Scientists Discover a Gene for Brain Size

March 4, 2015

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Scientists Identify a Gene for Human Brain Size

A team of researchers has identified for the first time a gene (ARHGAP11B) that is only present in humans and contributes to the reproduction of basal brain stem cells, triggering a folding of the neocortex. About 99 percent of human genes are shared with chimpanzees. Only the small remainder sets us apart. However, we have […]

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