Max Planck Research Groups


Evolutionary Biochemistry

Dr. Georg Hochberg

Cells are filled with a dazzling diversity of proteins that can seem exquisitely tuned to their functions. How did evolution produce this diversity? Is it the result millions of years of fine-tuning, or does it reflect a more erratic process that tends to produce Rube Goldberg-like machines replete with gratuitous complexity? Our lab tackles these questions using the evolution of protein complexes as our model system.  We use ancestral sequence reconstruction to resurrect long extinct protein complexes and characterize their structure and function using a combination of high-resolution biophysical techniques and high-throughput characterization of protein libraries. 


Bacterial Epitranscriptomics

Dr. Katharina Höfer

RNA`s simple chemical composition -  generally built from only four different nucleotides – stands in stark contrast to its highly complex functionality. To date, more than 160 chemical modifications are known that alter the function or stability of RNA molecules. Focusing primarily on the model organism Escherichia coli, our lab studies the epitranscriptomic mechanisms of gene regulation based on NAD-capped RNAs in bacteria. To identify novel and important connections between redox biology, gene expression and regulation they are combining cell biological, biochemical, structural, chemical and bioinformatic approaches.

Geochemical Protoenzymes

Dr. Martina Preiner

How did life emerge from non-life? How did cells develop from a geochemical environment? Is it possible to directly connect biochemistry with the environment from which it presumably arose? Our lab is zooming into processes where geochemistry and biochemistry can transition into each other. We use various imaging techniques as well as chemical, biochemical and geochemical methods for our experimental and analytical setups.

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