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Max Planck Society
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986 Projects, page 1 of 198
  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 705846
    Overall Budget: 239,861 EURFunder Contribution: 239,861 EUR

    The goal of this research is to identify and characterize genetic, behavioural and biochemical mechanisms underlying reciprocal local adaptation between partners in a complex mutualism. It will focus on a unique and outstanding model system found in the New World tropics: the “devil’s gardens” created by the ant, Myrmelachista schumanni, whose workers systematically attack and kill seedlings of foreign plants that germinate too close to their host plants. This cultivation behaviour results in low diversity, orchard-like stands of their host plants in the middle of some of the most diverse rainforests on earth. This project will bring together researchers from Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute to address three main questions through a combination of newly developed genome sequencing techniques, large-scale field-ecology behavioural experiments and state-of-the-art chemical analyses: (1) Do Myrmelachista schumanni and its host plants reciprocally influence each other’s population sizes, level of gene flow and genetic structure? (2) How specialized are interactions between Myrmelachista schumanni and the several species of plants that it cultivates? (3) What are some of the proximate mechanisms underlying host specificity, and in particular, can ants recognize different plant species and if so, how? In carrying out this research, postdoctoral fellow Pierre-Jean Malé will expand his expertise by gaining training in phylogenomics and chemical ecology. The project, referred to here as "RELOAD" (forREciprocal LOcal ADaptations), will also enable him to broaden the ecological and evolutionary scale of his research, and enhance his long-term goal of obtaining a faculty position at a European university and/or research institution.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 101106704
    Funder Contribution: 173,847 EUR

    The development of a multicellular organism requires the precise control of gene expression in space and time so that cells adopt their correct identity. However, genetic mutations can alter this complex process. Recently, transcriptional adaptation (TA) has been uncovered as one of the mechanisms underlying genetic compensation in zebrafish, mouse cells in culture, and Caenorhabditis elegans. TA refers to the phenomenon by which mutated genes (often with mRNA-destabilizing mutations) trigger the transcriptional modulation of related genes, called adapting genes. However, little is known about the spatial and temporal characteristics of adapting gene regulation and particularly during the zygotic genome activation. This project aims to decipher when and where TA occurs during early zebrafish development. Using genome engineering followed by live imaging, high-resolution microscopy and quantitative analysis, I will test the hypothesis that TA is regulated in a temporal manner during zygotic genome activation and that there is a specific mode of transcription during the modulation of the adapting genes (i.e., linear/discontinuous). Furthermore, I will investigate the subcellular localization of mutant mRNA degradation as well as the heterogeneity of the TA response between embryonic cells. Finally, I will implement the live imaging of translation in zebrafish embryo to decipher whether the dynamics of translation is involved during the TA/genetic compensation process. Until now, TA has been mostly investigated on pooled populations of cells. Therefore, we lack the understanding of this phenomenon at the single cell level. This project aims to fill this gap and obtain a better understanding of the spatio-temporal characteristics of genetic compensation which aid in the robustness of vertebrate development.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 757957
    Overall Budget: 1,618,120 EURFunder Contribution: 1,618,120 EUR

    With each newly detected exoplanet system, the planet formation theory is constantly gaining weight in the astrophysical research. The planets origin is a mystery which can only be solved by understanding the protoplanetary disks evolution. Recent disk observations by the new class of interferometer telescopes are challenging the existing theory of planet formation. They reveal astonishing detailed structures of spirals and rings in the dust emission which have never been seen before. Those structures are often claimed to be caused by embedded planets, which is difficult to explain with current models. This growing discrepancy between observation and theory forces us to realize: a novel disk modeling is essential to move on. Separate gas or dust evolution models have reached their limit and the gap between those has to be closed. With the UFOS project, I propose an unique and ambitious approach to unite gas and dust evolution models for protoplanetary disks. For the first time, a single global model will mutually link self-consistently: a) the transport of gaseous disk material, b) the radiative transfer, c) magnetic fields and their dissipation and d) the transport and growth of the solid material in form of dust grains. The development, performing and post-analysis of the models will initiate a new age for the planet formation research. The project results will achieve 1) unprecedented self-consistent precision to answer the question if those novel observed structures are caused by embedded planets or by the gas dynamics itself; 2) to find the locations of dust concentration and growth to unveil the birth places of planets and 3) to close the gap and finally unify self-consistent models of the disk evolution with the new class of observations. Only such advanced models combined with multi-wavelength observations, can show us the process of planet formation, and so explain the origin of the various of planets and exoplanets in our solar neighborhood and beyond.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 681164
    Overall Budget: 2,469,140 EURFunder Contribution: 2,469,140 EUR

    One of the greatest challenges in exploiting the electron spin for information processing is that it is not a conserved quantity like the electron charge. In addition, spin lifetimes are rather short and correspondingly coherence is quickly lost. This challenge culminates in the coherent manipulation and detection of information from a single spin. Except in a few special systems, so far, single spins cannot be manipulated coherently on the atomic scale, while spin coherence times can only be measured on spin ensembles. A new concept is needed for coherence measurements on arbitrary single spins. Here, the principal investigator (PI) will combine a novel time- and spin-resolved low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope (STM) with the concept of pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance. With this unique and innovative setup, he will be able to address long-standing problems, such as relaxation and coherence times of arbitrary single spin systems on the atomic scale as well as individual spin interactions with the immediate surroundings. Spin readout will be realized through the detection of the absolute spin polarization in the tunneling current by a superconducting tip based on the Meservey-Tedrow-Fulde effect, which the PI has recently demonstrated for the first time in STM. For the coherent excitation, a specially designed pulsed GHz light source will be implemented. The goal is to better understand the spin dynamics and coherence times of single spin systems as well as the spin interactions involved in the decay mechanisms. This will have direct impact on the feasibility of quantum spin information processing with single spin systems on different decoupling surfaces and their scalability at the atomic level. A successful demonstration will enhance the detection limit of spins by several orders of magnitude and fill important missing links in the understanding of spin dynamics and quantum computing with single spins.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 101025187
    Overall Budget: 264,669 EURFunder Contribution: 264,669 EUR

    Over the last decades, we have established a standard cosmological paradigm by combining the information from complementary cosmological probes. However, many intriguing questions remain to be answered: the nature of dark energy, the driving mechanisms of the cosmic inflation, and masses of neutrinos. In this proposal, I will focus on the cosmological information content of the large-scale structure (LSS) of the Universe. Different physical processes leave their unique imprints on the clustering pattern of LSS at different scales, and N-point statistics act a bridge between the observables and the underlying physics. In the coming years, new large-volume galaxy surveys will probe the LSS of the Universe with exquisite detail. However, traditional analysis methods, based mostly on 2-point statistics alone, are not adequate for these new surveys and must urgently be revised to ensure their full potential. This proposal aims to maximise the information to be extracted from the upcoming surveys. With the Marie-Curie fellowship, I will carry out a consistent joint analysis of the 2- and 3-point statistics, and develop a complementary but simplified treatment of the N-point statistics. These tools will be applied to the new data to constrain the cosmological models, with special focus in understanding the properties of the primordial signatures and models beyond the standard cosmological paradigm. In the outgoing phase, I will work at Univesity of Florida (US) to benefit from the expertise in the leading algorithms to estimate higher-order statistics, their theoretical modelling, and knowledge about high-performance computing. In the incoming phase, I will work at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (Germany), I will delve into the data from the real surveys and understand potential systematic errors. With the help of the experts at MPE, the experience and techniques acquired in the US will be applied to the datasets to extract more precise information.

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