Biology

Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, identification and taxonomy. Modern biology is a vast and eclectic field, composed of many branches and sub-disciplines.

  • 3D Structure of DNA Forms Defined Room for Dissociated lncRNAs to Activate Gene Expression

    The long non-coding RNA called A-ROD functions within a loop to recruit proteins to the DKK1 gene.  © E. Ntini / Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

    Enhancers are regulatory regions of the DNA, giving rise to “long non-coding RNAs” (lncRNAs), which are known as crucial regulators of gene expression. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin now have shown that a lncRNA called A-ROD is only functional the moment it is released from chromatin into the nucleoplasm. In the current issue of Nature Communications the researchers demonstrate that the regulatory interaction requires dissociation of A-ROD from chromatin, with target specificity ensured within the pre-established chromosomal proximity. This can heavily influence our understanding of dynamic regulation of gene expression in biological processes.

  • 3D-microdevice for minimally invasive surgeries

    Figures 1 and 2. Microswimmer CAD and microswimmer micrograph. © MPI IS

    Scientists take challenge of developing functional microdevices for direct access to the brain, spinal cord, eye and other delicate parts of human body. A tiny robot that gets into the human body through the simple medical injection and, passing healthy organs, finds and treats directly the goal – a non-operable tumor… Doesn’t it sound at least like science-fiction? To make it real, a growing number of researchers are now working towards this direction with the prospect of transforming many aspects of healthcare and bioengineering in the nearest future. What makes it not so easy are unique challenges pertaining to design, fabrication and encoding functionality in producing functional microdevices.

  • 8th NRW Nano Conference Dortmund, Open Call for Presentations and Posters

    NRW nanoconference 2018

    The NRW Nano Conference is Germany’s largest conference with international appeal in the field of nanotechnologies. It takes place every two years at changing locations. More than 700 experts from science, industry and politics meet for two days to promote research and application of the key technology at the network meeting.

  • A Boost for Biofuel Cells

    Boosting the energy output by storing and bundling the energy of many spontaneous enzyme reactions. Alejandro Posada

    In chemistry, a reaction is spontaneous when it does not need the addition of an external energy input. How much energy is released in a reaction is dictated by the laws of thermodynamics. In the case of the spontaneous reactions that occur in the human body this is often not enough to power medical implants. Now, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international team of researchers, found a way to boost the energy output by storing and bundling the energy of many spontaneous enzyme reactions. The work is published in the journal Nature Communications.

  • A Molecular Switch May Serve as New Target Point for Cancer and Diabetes Therapies

    Signal receptor-containing vesicles (red) form on the inside of the cell membrane (brown) and bud off into the cell. Visualization: Thomas Splettstößer

    If certain signaling cascades are misregulated, diseases like cancer, obesity and diabetes may occur. A mechanism recently discovered by scientists at the Leibniz- Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin and at the University of Geneva has a crucial influence on such signaling cascades and may be an important key for the future development of therapies against these diseases. The results of the study have just been published in the prestigious scientific journal 'Molecular Cell'.

  • A Pair of RNA Scissors with Many Functions

    Photo: Dominik Kopp

    Arming CRISPR/Cas systems with an enzyme that also controls the translation of genetic information into protein. CRISPR/Cas systems are known as promising “gene scissors” in the genome editing of plants, animals, and microorganisms by targeting specific regions in their DNA – and perhaps they can even be used to correct genetic defects.

  • About injured hearts that grow back - Heart regeneration mechanism in zebrafish revealed

    Zebrafish have a wonderful characteristic trait: they have extraordinary regenerative powers that go beyond the ability to regrow injured extremities. Even heart injuries heal up completely in this fish species. For cardiologists, who regularly treat heart attack patients, this would be a dream come true. Scientists at Utrecht University and Ulm University now have unravelled a central molecular mechanism that coordinates this healing process.
  • Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake

    Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake | The surface of the hybrid mortar (left) is covered with tiny crystalline spikes. This results in the so-called lotus effect which does not occur on the untreated mortar (right) Illustration: Stefan Grumbein / TUM

    Moisture can destroy mortar over time – for example when cracks form as a result of frost. A team of scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found an unusual way to protect mortar from moisture: When the material is being mixed, they add a biofilm – a soft, moist substance produced by bacteria.

    Oliver Lieleg usually has little to do with bricks, mortar and concrete. As a professor of biomechanics at the Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM) and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he mainly deals with biopolymer-based hydrogels or, to put it bluntly, slime formed by living organisms.These include bacterial biofilms, such as dental plaque and the slimy black coating that forms in sewage pipes. “Biofilms are generally considered undesirable and harmful. They are something you want to get rid of,” says Oliver Lieleg. “I was therefore excited to find a beneficial use for them.”

  • Antibiotic Resistance – Quick and Reliable Detection

    DZIF scientists (from left to right): Alexander Klimka, Sonja Mertins, Paul Higgins. Uniklinik Köln/Klimka

    Early detection of antibiotic resistant pathogens can be life-saving. DZIF-scientists at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University of Cologne, have developed an antibody-based diagnostic test, which can identify carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria in only 10 minutes – in a process similar to a pregnancy test.

  • Attacking Flu Viruses from Two Sides

    IgA1 antibodies binding to the influenza A virus antigen hemagglutinin. TSRI/UZH

    UZH researchers have discovered a new way in which certain antibodies interact with the flu virus. This previously unknown form of interaction opens up new possibilities for developing better vaccines and more efficient medication to combat the flu. Fever, shivering, headaches, and joint pains – each year millions of people around the world are affected by the flu. While most people recover after a few days, the WHO estimates that each year between 250,000 and 500,000 people die from the disease.

  • Bacteria supply their allies with munitions

    Vibrio cholerae bacteria (green) recycle T6SS proteins of the attacking sister cells (red) to build their own spear gun (light green intracellular structure). (Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum)

    Bacteria fight their competitors with molecular spear guns, the so-called Type VI secretion system. When firing this weapon they also unintentionally hit their own kind. However, as researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum report in the journal Cell, the related bacteria strains benefit from coming under fire. They recycle the protein components of the spear guns and use these to build their own weapons.

  • Better Contrast Agents Based on Nanoparticles

    Scientists at the University of Basel have developed nanoparticles which can serve as efficient contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging. This new type of nanoparticles produce around ten times more contrast than common contrast agents and are responsive to specific environments. The journal Chemical Communications has published these results.

  • Biodegradable composites: a significant advance in medical implant technology

    • Evonik is conducting research on new composite materials for the fixation of fractured bones
    • Bioresorbable polymers degrade naturally in the body, eliminating the need for additional surgery
    • Medical implant technology is an attractive and growing market

  • Biofilms as Construction Workers

    Red algae move towards the light and excrete chains of sugar molecules. By means of time-variable light patterns, the researchers obtain customized templates from these long, fine polymer threads, which they use for functional ceramics. (Photo: v. Opdenbosch/TUM)

    Biofilms are generally seen as a problem to be eradicated due to the hazards they pose for humans and materials. However, these communities of algae, fungi, or bacteria possess interesting properties both from a scientific and a technical standpoint. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes processes from the field of biology that utilize biofilms as ‘construction workers’ to create structural templates for new materials that possess the properties of natural materials. In the past, this was only possible to a limited extent.

  • Bioimaging - Tiefe Blicke in den Nanokosmos

    Am Biomedizinischen Centrum (BMC) geht die Core Facility Bioimaging, eine Serviceeinheit für lichtmikroskopische Verfahren, offiziell in Betrieb – in einer neuartigen Kooperation mit dem Unternehmen Leica Microsystems.

  • Biological Signalling Processes in Intelligent Materials

    Graphic: Wilfried Weber

     

    Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information. These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.

  • Biological system with light switch: new findings from Graz

    Schematic representation of the illumination of the sensor domain of a photo-receptor and the molecular propagation of the light signal to the effector (in red on the right-hand edge of the image). © TU Graz/IBC

    For the first time ever, researchers at TU Graz and the Medical University of Graz have managed to functionally characterise the three-dimensional interaction between red-light receptors and enzymatic effectors. The results, with implications for optogenetics, have been published in Science Advances. The aim of optogenetics is to control genetically modified cells using light. A team of Graz scientists led by Andreas Winkler from the Institute of Biochemistry at TU Graz have set a milestone in the future development of novel red-light regulated optogenetic tools for targeted cell stimulation.

  • Biomolekül verhält sich unter künstlichen Bedingungen natürlicher als erwartet

    Faltungsexperimente in dicht gedrängten Lösungen im Reagenzglas sowie in der lebenden Zelle erlauben es, die Stabilität einer RNA-Haarnadel räumlich und zeitlich aufgelöst zu verfolgen. (C) David Gnutt

    Forscher untersuchen Biomoleküle oft isoliert im Reagenzglas, und es ist fraglich, ob die Ergebnisse auf dicht gepackte Zellen übertragbar sind. Ein Team aus Bochum, Dortmund und Greifswald verfolgte die Faltung einer RNA-Struktur in der lebenden Zelle und verglich die Ergebnisse mit Tests im Reagenzglas.

  • Biophysik - Den Ring schließen

    Wie Bakterien sich teilen, ist bisher nicht vollständig klar. LMU-Physiker zeigen jetzt, dass sich Proteine bei hoher Dichte von selbst zu Ringen zusammenschließen können. Sie schnüren die Mutterzelle ein und teilen sie so in Tochterzellen.

  • Blattläuse als Bio-Sensoren

    Haben Pflanzen eine Art Nervensystem? Das ist nicht leicht herauszufinden, weil es keine guten Messmethoden gibt. Würzburger Pflanzenforscher nahmen dafür Blattläuse – und entdeckten, dass Pflanzen auf verschiedene Schädigungen jeweils anders reagieren.