Global trade in soy has major implications for the climate

The extent to which Brazilian soy production and trade contribute to climate change depends largely on the location where soybeans are grown. This is shown by a recent study conducted by the University of Bonn together with partners from Spain, Belgium and Sweden. In some municipalities, CO2 emissions resulting from the export of soybean and derivatives are more than 200 times higher than in others. Between 2010 and 2015, the EU imported soy primarily from locations where large forest and savannah areas had previously been converted into agricultural land. The analysis is published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Heinsberg Study results published

The district of Heinsberg in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is considered a hot spot for the novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Following a carnival celebration, the district became one of the first areas in Germany where the pathogen spread and infected large quantities of people. As part of the study, a research team led by Prof. Dr. Hendrik Streeck and Prof. Dr. Gunther Hartmann from the University of Bonn carried out a large study to precisely determine the infection fatality rate for the first time among other findings. The results of the study have been pre-published and are now presented to scientists and the public. Publication in a peer-reviewed journal is to follow.

Signs of life: "One Health" against epidemics and pandemics

The novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2 has taken the world by surprise, with devastating consequences for national health systems and the global economy. For years, health experts have been warning of the pandemic risk posed by zoonotic diseases, i.e. infections transmitted from animals to humans. They are demanding the development of monitoring systems that enable quicker responses. Dr. Timo Falkenberg from the Center of Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn is calling for a “One Health” approach that focuses on human, animal and environmental health.

Dramatic loss of food plants for insects

Just a few weeks ago, everyone was talking about plummeting insect numbers. Academic discourse focused on three main causes: the destruction of habitats, pesticides in agriculture and the decline of food plants for insects. A team of researchers from the Universities of Bonn and Zurich and the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL have now demonstrated for the first time that the diversity of food plants for insects in the canton of Zurich has dramatically decreased over the past 100 years or so. This means that bees, flies and butterflies are increasingly deprived of their food base. The study, which is representative for all of Central Europe, has now been published in the journal "Ecological Applications".

A "corset" for the enzyme structure

The structure of enzymes determines how they control vital processes such as digestion or immune response. This is because the protein compounds are not rigid, but can change their shape through movable "hinges". The shape of enzymes can depend on whether their structure is measured in the test tube or in the living cell. This is what physicochemists at the University of Bonn discovered about YopO, an enzyme of the plague pathogen. This fundamental result, which has now been published in the journal "Angewandte Chemie", is potentially also of interest for drug research.

Catalyst enables reactions with the help of green light

For the first time, chemists at the University of Bonn and Lehigh University in Bethlehem (USA) have developed a titanium catalyst that makes light usable for selective chemical reactions. It provides a cost-effective and non-toxic alternative to the ruthenium and iridium catalysts used so far, which are based on very expensive and toxic metals. The new catalyst can be used to produce highly selective chemical products that can provide the basis for antiviral drugs or luminescent dyes, for example. The results have been published in the international edition of the journal "Angewandte Chemie".

Stronger together: in the fight against COVID-19, research institutions around the globe are joining forces.

Many questions surrounding the novel coronavirus remain unanswered. But one thing is already clear: the pathogen affects us all, be it in China, Germany, South Africa or the US. Fighting the disease is increasingly carried out at international level. The University of Bonn is part of numerous international networks that operate on very different levels, striving to slow down the wave of infection.

Low-income earners suffer most from the COVID-19 crisis

Home office at full pay is not an option for all employees hit by the coronavirus crisis. To analyze changes in work arrangements during the pandemic, a team of economists from the Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute in cooperation with the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) surveyed around 5,500 individuals in the Netherlands from March 20-31. The results show that high-skilled workers spend more time in the home office, while less-skilled workers are more likely to work reduced hours or lose their jobs.

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