Nature provides the material basis for a bioeconomy. Preventive and production-integrated environmental protection will therefore become even more important in a bioeconomy. Powerful analytical systems that can be used in industrial processes or in the field will provide information about soil, air and water quality. Environmental analytics and monitoring are crucial for the bioeconomy.
Exhaust gases smoke generated by industry and private household combustion processes every day we inhale a mixture of a broad range of particulate matter potentially resulting in respiratory tract or cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Silvia Diabat and her team from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT are examining the molecular mechanisms triggered by flue ash and other nanoparticles in the cells of the lung tissue.
k-labor GmbH focuses on the initial inspection of samples for the automotive industry and the testing of a broad range of different materials. k-labor also specialises in environmental simulations and durability testing and offers consulting and the transfer of technologies in the plastics sector.
As a chemistry student in the 1980s, Thomas Class focused on the investigation of environmental toxins such as dioxin and PCB under the supervision of Professor Karlheinz Ballschmiter. Back then, everybody was talking about the “environment”. The public as well as students and professors at the University of Ulm were all fascinated by the subject. Ulm University institutes were renamed to reflect this interest in the environment. While some of the institutes’ names later changed once again, Dr. Class has retained the same interests and has even stayed in the same place, at the “Eselsberg” site, which also houses the University of Ulm campus. However, rather than pursuing an academic career, in 1992 Class decided to establish PTRL Europe GmbH, a contract research company.
Science constantly provides researchers with new challenges biologists and bioanalysts have to deal with and which come from sources as varied as the ever increasing number of resistant pathogenic bacterial strains or the famine conditions in Third-World countries. In the search for scientific truths bioanalysis is the development optimization and application of the entire range of analytical methods available. However we need to keep in mind that although this leads to an expansion of knowledge the truth is only temporary.
Siemens is developing optical measuring techniques that will enable more precise control of biogas facilities in order to increase their efficiency. When biomass is fermented to produce methane, acids are created, and if the acid concentration gets too high, the process collapses and the facility has to be cleaned and started up again.
Ozan Gökay, chemical engineer and chemist, has been thinking about setting up his own company for many years. Now he is about to turn his plans into reality and his company ANASYN will start operating in November 2010. The company will focus on analytics, syntheses and biotechnology.
Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Jan C. Behrends and Dr. Gerhard Baaken from the University of Freiburg have developed a chip the size of a fingertip containing biological nanopores that determine molecule mass with great precision. Developing this new system which is a combination of biological and micro-technical components involved a great deal of technical skill. The system has the same level of sensitivity as a chromatography device but is much easier to handle and is also cheaper than the large devices. The chip has also the potential to be used for sequencing genes and for analysing other molecule classes.
Continuous monitoring of environmental air quality has been mandatory in the EU since 1996. However, state-of-the-art technical measurement systems are expensive and lack mobility. A European consortium led by biologist Prof. Dr. Ralf Reski has developed a new system that uses peat moss in so-called ”MOSSpheres” for monitoring air pollution. The project MOSSclone started in April 2012 and funding ended in March 2015.
New studies reveal that rivers are major contributors to marine ecosystem pollution. A study commissioned by environmental authorities in BW and four other German states analysed samples from 25 rivers to gain an idea of the occurrence of microplastics in German inland waters. In addition, Dr. Natalie Orlowski from the University of Freiburg is analysing microplastics pollution in the Dreisam River.
Dr. Bianca Hermann from the University of Freiburg specialises in multi-haem enzymes, and investigates the enzymes’ structure and reaction mechanisms. She has clarified the enzymes’ crystal structure and reaction mechanisms and found out why the bacterial MccA enzyme complex can reduce sulphur-containing substances such as sulphites up to a hundred times faster than other enzymes.
When an oil spill occurs, chemical dispersants are routinely applied to the surface of the oil-contaminated seawater or into deeper water regions. Dr. Sara Kleindienst, a molecular ecologist from the Centre for Applied Geoscience at the University of Tübingen, has now shown that chemical dispersants do not stimulate oil biodegradation. In cooperation with an international team of researchers, Kleindienst simulated the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico and obtained unexpected results on the degradation of harmful substances following oil spills.
Action plans prove all the more resilient for being well supported by facts and figures and based on thorough ethical thinking. This equally applies to the utilisation of biomass. Researchers involved in an interdisciplinary research project at the Universities of Stuttgart and Tübingen have therefore developed indicators to help improve the utilisation of biomass in the future. The findings are based on investigations of the utilisation pathways from agricultural raw material to the end of the life of products produced from the raw material.
Whole-genome sequence analyses have become indispensable for algal research. Sequence analyses provide information on the evolution of different groups of algae and contribute to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms algae use to adapt to climate change as well as unlocking the potential to develop new and economically important products and technologies.
Molecular phylogenetic analyses have led to the radical rearrangement of mammalian systematics. Afrotheria a clade of mammals including elephants and shrew-like animals are nowadays regarded as the largest group of placental mammals.
The success of plant breeders is no longer to be left to chance. Scientists at the University of Hohenheim are working hard on the development of tools for predictable plant breeding. Using genome analyses, the researchers hope to discover sought-after genes in order to enable plant breeders to select the plant properties they require in a time- and cost-saving way.
In Europe the GM contamination threshold must not exceed 0.1. The Agricultural Technology Centre Augustenberg LTZ in Karlsruhe is accredited by the International Seed Testing Association ISTA to carry out international cooperative studies on GM seed analyses in cooperation with ISTA.
The biologist Prof. Dr. Stefan Rensing from the University of Freiburg has been involved in introducing the use of computers to the life sciences from the very beginning. His analyses of the moss genomes now help to close an important gap in evolutionary research how did algae become land plants?
On 1st December 2008 Prof. Dr. Karl Schmid the first person to hold the F.W. Schnell Foundations endowed professorship for crop biodiversity and breeding informatics started the ball rolling on a unique European-wide project. Schmid and his colleagues are searching gigantic databases in which genetic analyses and plant descriptions are stored for hidden treasures.
The moss Physcomitrella patens has long since been one of several popular model organisms used in research. The Physcomitrella patens genome was sequenced in 2007. Comparative analyses with other plant species show why the relatives of the moss were able to colonise land approximately 500 million years ago the moss relatives developed a large number of mechanisms to protect them against drought and other stress factors which made them real survivalists.
MicroMol GmbH carries out microbiological, molecular and cell biological analyses, is active in research and development, performs validations and produces and sells laboratory products for the life sciences industry. This brief description reflects a broad product and service portfolio that addresses a wide range of different clients, including companies in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and in the medical technology, industrial biotechnology and nutrition sectors.
Life can also be found in Arctic and Antarctic ice. Anique Stecher a biologist at Konstanz University is investigating the biodiversity in these areas using samples collected on board a research vessel and then analysing the data using special phylogenetic software. This provides her with a comprehensive inventory of Arctic and Antarctic organisms and with insights into their relationships with each other. The researchers findings make an important contribution to gaining an in-depth understanding of the studied ecosystems. She is also studying cold-adapted enzymes which have the potential to be used in foods and detergents amongst other things.
Ecotoxicologists from Tübingen are calling for new interdisciplinary approaches in order to improve investigations into the effect of pesticides on the living environment. They expect that a more effective and more frequent combination of field work and laboratory analyses will provide them with a clearer picture of the overall situation. This knowledge will enable all stakeholders involved in solving environmental issues to draw the right conclusions and take action accordingly.
Toxaphene is a mixture of more than 1000 halogenated compounds. The pesticide has been banned in Western countries since the early 1970s, while the Eastern Bloc continued to use it up until the 1990s. Huge amounts of toxaphene that have been used as insecticide or simply deposited at dilapidated storage sites continue to pollute the environment. Researchers from the University of Hohenheim are analysing the complex substance and looking for economical microbiological and abiotic solutions to degrade it.