The environment shapes behavior

Foraging humans find food, reproduce, share parenting, and even organize their social groups in similar ways as surrounding mammal and bird species, depending on where they live in the world, new research has found. A new study by researchers from the University of Bonn, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the University of Bristol shows that environmental factors exert an overriding influence on how foraging human populations and non-human species behave, despite their very different backgrounds. The study has been published in the journal “Science”.

New promising antibodies against SARS-CoV-2

An international research team led by the University of Bonn has identified and further developed novel antibody fragments against the SARS coronavirus-2. These "nanobodies" are much smaller than the classic antibodies used to treat US President Donald Trump, for example. They therefore penetrate the tissue better and can be produced more easily in larger quantities. The researchers at the University Hospital Bonn have also combined the nanobodies into potentially particularly effective molecules. These attack different parts of the virus simultaneously. The approach could prevent the pathogen from evading the active agent through mutations. The results are published in the journal Science.

Bacterium produces pharmaceutical all-purpose weapon

For some years, an active substance from the leaves of an ornamental plant has been regarded as a possible forerunner of a new group of potent drugs. So far, however, it has been very laborious to manufacture it in large quantities. That could now change: Researchers at the University of Bonn have identified a bacterium that produces the substance and can also be easily cultivated in the laboratory. The results are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Keeping sperm cells on track: New mechanism of male infertility found

A tiny component is essential for sexual reproduction - the sperm tail. It is an example for a flagellum. Flagella and cilia are small antenna-like structures protruding from most cells in our body. In order for a sperm to travel to and fertilize the egg, its flagellum has to beat in a very precise and coordinated manner to allow progressive swimming of the sperm. Researchers at the Institut Curie in Paris, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, the research center caesar in Bonn together with Jan Hansen from the Institute of Innate Immunity at the University of Bonn and other colleagues from Paris and Milan now show that one particular enzymatic modification of the protein tubulin is essential to keep sperm swimming in a straight line. These findings imply that a perturbation of this modification could underlie some forms of male infertility in humans. The study appears in the journal Science.

Intelligence deficit: Conclusion from the mouse to the human being

Impaired intelligence, movement disorders and developmental delays are typical for a group of rare diseases that belong to GPI anchor deficiencies. Researchers from the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics used genetic engineering methods to create a mouse that mimics these patients very well. Studies in this animal model suggest that in GPI anchor deficiencies, a gene mutation impairs the transmission of stimuli at the synapses in the brain. This may explain the impairments associated with the disease. The results are now published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)".

With stem cells against blindness: Volker Busskamp receives ERC Proof of Concept Grant

Prof. Volker Busskamp from the University of Bonn has received a "Proof of Concept Grant" worth 150,000 euros from the European Research Council (ERC). This funding line is intended to support scientists in transferring their research results from previous ERC projects into commercial applications. Volker Busskamp and his team are working at the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Bonn on a technology to rapidly program human stem cells to photoreceptor for retinal research and treating blindness in the future.

Physicists observe competition between magnetic orders

They are as thin as a hair, only a hundred thousand times thinner—so-called two-dimensional materials, consisting of a single layer of atoms, have been booming in research for years. They became known to a wider audience when two Russian-British scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for the discovery of graphene, a building block of graphite. The special feature of such materials is that they possess novel properties that can only be explained with the help of the laws of quantum mechanics and that may be relevant for enhanced technologies. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now used ultracold atoms to gain new insights into previously unknown quantum phenomena. They found out that the magnetic orders between two coupled thin films of atoms compete with each other. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

Climate change caused mangrove collapse in Oman

Most of the mangrove forests on the coasts of Oman disappeared about 6,000 years ago. Until now, the reason for this was not entirely clear. A current study of the University of Bonn now sheds light on this: It indicates that the collapse of coastal ecosystems was caused by climatic changes. In contrast, falling sea level or overuse by humans are not likely to be the reasons. The speed of the mangrove extinction was dramatic: Many of the stocks were irreversibly lost within a few decades. The results are published in the journal Quaternary Research.

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