Fossils Permit Glimpse into the Future

In what is an intriguing mix of past and future, an international team of researchers, including some from the University of Bonn, has stumbled upon a surprising window to the past in Kourou in French Guiana. In the clay underneath the new launch pad for the forthcoming Ariane 6 launch vehicle, the interdisciplinary team has uncovered a remarkable collection of fossils stretching back 130,000 years. Covering over 270 species in total, including bony fish, sharks and numerous plants, they reflect the kind of climatic conditions that calculations suggest are set to reoccur in the year 2100. The team’s findings have now been published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.”

Don Zagier Awarded Germany’s Biggest Mathematics Prize

The Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung is to present the Heinz Gumin Prize for Mathematics to Don Zagier, who was a director of the Bonn-based Max Planck Institute for Mathematics until 2019 and has strong ties to the University of Bonn. The foundation is thus honoring his pioneering research into number theory and the theory of modular forms. The Gumin Prize is worth €50,000, making it the most generous award for mathematics in Germany. 

All Countries’ Agri-Environmental Policies at a Glance

There can be no analysis without data. In this spirit, researchers from the University of Bonn and the Swiss Federal Institution of Technology (ETH) Zurich have published a database containing over 6,000 agri-environmental policies, thus enabling their peers as well as policymakers and businesses to seek answers to all manner of different questions. The researchers have used two examples to demonstrate how this can be done: how a country’s economic development is linked to its adoption of agri-environmental policies and how such policies impact soil erosion. Their study has now been published in “Nature Food.”

Maize genes control little helpers in the soil

Tiny organisms such as bacteria and fungi help to promote the health and function of plant roots. It is commonly assumed that the composition of these microbes is dependent on the properties of the soil. However, an international team of researchers led by the University of Bonn has now discovered when studying different local varieties of maize that the genetic makeup of the plants also helps to influence which microorganisms cluster around the roots. The results, which have now been published in the prestigious journal Nature Plants, could help to breed future varieties of maize that are better suited to drought and limited nutrients.

Phosphorus Absorption Improved and Zinc Content Increased

A new variety of rice that is adapted to life in low-phosphorus soils, that contains an exceptionally large amount of zinc and that was developed specifically for the conditions in Madagascar where it is grown, has recently been certified in the country. The variety was created under the leadership of plant scientist Professor Matthias Wissuwa from the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) and the PhenoRob Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn which he joined as a visiting professor in spring 2023,  together with the Africa Rice Center and the National Centre of Applied Research for Rural Development in Madagascar (FOFIFA)

University of Bonn Welcomes New Schlegel Professor

The University of Bonn has appointed yet another outstanding Schlegel Professor financed from Excellence funding. Prof. Dr. Laura Münkler is Professor of Public Law and the Philosophy of Law and will drive forward transdisciplinary research. Besides the philosophy of law, her main areas of focus are legal theory, constitutional and administrative law and healthcare law, especially the foundations of the democratic state governed by the rule of law.

Precautionary measure: Historical books in safekeeping

The media is currently reporting on measures affecting university libraries due to books that may be contaminated with toxic arsenic compounds. This mainly concerns volumes from the 19th century in which, for example, bindings have been dyed with arsenic-containing dyes. There are also several thousand potentially contaminated books at the University of Bonn, but these have already been separated by the Bonn University and State Library (ULB) in a closed stacks so that users cannot come into contact with them. Library closures as at other locations are therefore not necessary in Bonn.

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