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Teaser 1510058996

How Vibrio cholerae finds its way: A key piece of the puzzle solved

November 07, 2017
Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera disease, is able to swim by means of a polar flagellum. Swimming is used to find new areas in which the bacterium can grow and importantly to find food, but also to escape from obnoxious substances. When in search of food, bacteria swim toward the highest concentration of food molecules in the environment by a process called chemotaxis. Since the ability to perform chemotaxis is vital for the spreading of many bacterial species in the environment and important for the ability of many human pathogens – like V. cholerae – to cause disease, it is important to learn how this process is regulated, in order to potentially stop the spread of infectious bacteria and prevent human infections. The correct placement of the apparatus responsible for chemotactic behavior within the cell – the chemotaxis array - is very important for the bacterium’s ability to perform chemotaxis. Therefore, it is important to understand the processes that are responsible for where and when chemotaxis arrays are positioned in the cell. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Marburg have discovered how V. cholerae positions the chemotaxis arrays to its cell poles. Their results were recently published in the journal eLife. [more]
Teaser 1505399214

Closing the gap between CO2 fixation and methane generation

September 14, 2017
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and at the same time an important renewable energy source. The study of methane formation is, therefore, of great relevance for basic and applied science. Microbes called methanogens produce half of the methane on our planet. Most methanogens use hydrogen and CO2 in a process called hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis to generate methane. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg together with collaborators at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt have now shown how methane generation and CO2 fixation are connected. The work can potentially improve future attempts to reduce atmospheric methane levels as well as to generate methane as a renewable energy source. This work was recently published in the international journal Science. [more]
Teaser 1498544447

Self-organization and positioning of bacterial protein clusters

June 26, 2017
Many cellular processes require proteins to be precisely positioned within the cell. This is the case even when the proteins are dynamic and cannot rely on existing cellular landmarks. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg have proposed a novel physical model for how such dynamic proteins can self-organise and position themselves into regular repeating patterns inside bacterial cells. Their results appeared today in Nature Physics. [more]
Teaser 1498223499

Following single proteins at work in living cells

June 23, 2017
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology have developed a novel approach for photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM) using a recently described new photoconversion mechanism called primed conversion. The new method promises to bring novel insights into the spatial organization of cells and their macromolecules. The results were recently published in the journal Angewandte Chemie. [more]
Teaser 1498222032

Hot news from submarine volcanoes: Surprising modifications identified in methane-generating enzymes

June 22, 2017
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and it accumulates in the atmosphere at an alarming rate. Half of the methane produced per year is generated by microorganisms called methanogens. Methanogens generate energy by converting CO2 to methane and to do so, they use a complicated machinery of different enzymes. The last reaction performed by this machinery liberates methane and is performed by the enzyme methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR), which is common to all methanogens on Earth. Chemically, this is an extremely challenging reaction and is the bottleneck in methane formation by methanogens. [more]
Teaser 1495470068

PhD students meet to share Marvelous & Terrific microbiology

May 22, 2017
The Max Planck Society operates approximately 80 Max Planck Institutes in Germany as well as abroad. The Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg are the only institutes to focus entirely on understanding how microorganisms function and contribute to important processes on our planet. To establish new collaborations, learn about research at the two institutes, network and be inspired, 46 PhD candidates from the two institutes met May 11th - 12th at the MPI in Marburg at the meeting “It MaTer(s)”. [more]
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