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Selected News

12.03.20 Metabolic fossils from the origin of life

Since the origin of life, metabolic networks provide cells with nutrition and energy. Modern networks require thousands of enzymes that perform catalysis. Such networks must have arisen from simpler precursors, but how, and from what? Investigating the metabolism of modern cells, Xavier et al. have identified ancient and conserved autocatalytic networks at the core of microbial metabolism that require only cofactors and metals as catalysts.

09.03.20 Further coronavirus guidelines

The spread of the Covid-19 virus raises new questions concerning work and student life at Heinrich Heine University (HHU) every day. HHU and UKD managements are in constant exchange and the University’s management assesses the situation taking into account any new developments surrounding coronavirus. The following recommendations on this portal are updated on a regular basis.

06.03.20 Chlamydia build their own entrance into human cells

Chlamydia, a type of pathogenic bacteria, need to penetrate human cells in order to multiply. Researchers from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) have now identified the bacterial protein SemC, which is secreted into the cell and restructures the cell membrane at the entry site. SemC forces the cell’s own protein SNX9 to assist it in this process. Together with scientists from Paris and Munich, a team of researchers working under Prof. Dr. Johannes Hegemann and Dr. Katja Mölleken has published these findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

28.02.20 Hydrogen energy at the root of life

A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life. It could be that life originated from chemical reactions catalysed by minerals in submarine hydrothermal vents. These reactions still drive the metabolism of the most primitive forms of life today. As the team has now reported in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, hydrogen was both the key to and the fuel for the earliest biochemical processes that marked the beginnings of life.

27.02.20 Joining forces to fighting rice diseases in India

Each year, bacterial and fungal diseases in rice lead to devastating losses for Asia’s agricultural sector. Researchers working with Prof. Dr. Wolf B. Frommer at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in New Delhi plan to work together closely in this area. They have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of protecting in particular smallholder farmers in India from rice diseases and their consequences.

18.02.20 Superresolution live-cell imaging provides unexpected insights into the dynamic structure of mitochondria

As power plants and energy stores, mitochondria are essential components of almost all cells in plants, fungi and animals. Until now, it has been assumed that these functions underlie a static structure of mitochondrial membranes. Researchers at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have now discovered that the inner membranes of mitochondria are by no means static, but rather constantly change their structure every few seconds in living cells.

27.01.20 The regulators active during iron deficiency

Iron deficiency is a critical situation for plants, which respond using specific genetic programmes. Biologists from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and Michigan State University (MSU) used artificial intelligence methods to examine how to predict regulatory genetic sequences. They have now published the findings from their joint research work in the journal Plant Physiology.

13.01.20 Cell growth: Intricate network of potential new regulatory mechanisms has been decoded

Whether a cell grows, divides or dies is controlled among other things by receptors that messenger substances bind to externally. A research team from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) worked together with partners from the University of Bonn to study the important EGF receptor in more detail. They succeeded in uncovering more information about an interface about which so far very little was known. In the cover article of the Cell Press journal Structure, the authors – among them Dr. Manuel Etzkorn (HHU/FZJ) and Prof. Dr. Michael Famulok (Bonn) – now describe how the interface functions and what substances can interact with it.

08.01.20 Ocean acidification is damaging shark scales

Sharks have unusual type of scales referred to as ‘denticles’. A research group from South Africa and Germany that includes Jacqueline Dziergwa and Prof. Dr. Christopher Bridges from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) has examined the impact of climate change in the form of ocean acidification on these structures. The researchers uncovered damage to the denticles and have reported on their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

11.12.19 Plant researchers examine the aroma of bread: modern and old wheat varieties taste equally good

Bread baked from modern wheat varieties are just as aromatic as that baked from old varieties. However, differences exist between the breads from different wheat varieties – and those that were grown in different locations. These were the findings made by a team of German and Swiss researchers under the leadership of Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) and the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. The scientists compared taste and aroma of different breads baked in close cooperation with an artisan baker and a miller using flour from old as well as modern wheat varieties. In the journal Food Research International the research team now also describes how it can predict not only the taste but also other characteristics of bread using molecular biological approaches.

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