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Concept: Max Planck Society

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This paper describes calibration strategies in laboratory conditions that can be applied to ensure accurate measurements of the isotopic composition of the CO2 in ultra-dry air, expressed as δ13C and δ18O on the VPDB scale, with either FTIR (in this case a Vertex 70V (Bruker)) or an Isotope Ratio Infrared Spectrometer (IRIS) (in this case a Delta Ray (Thermo Fisher Scientific)). In the case of FTIR a novel methodology using only two standards of CO2 in air with different mole fractions but identical isotopic composition was demonstrated to be highly accurate for measurements of δ13C and δ18O with standard uncertainties of 0.09 ‰ and 1.03 ‰ respectively, at a nominal CO2 mole fraction of 400 µmol mol-1 in air. In the case of the IRIS system, we demonstrate that the use of two standards of CO2 in air of known but differing δ13C and δ18O isotopic composition allows standard uncertainties of 0.18 ‰ and 0.48 ‰, to be achieved for δ13C and δ18O measurements respectively. The calibration strategies were validated using a set of five traceable Primary Reference Gas Mixtures. These standards, produced with whole air or synthetic air covered the mole fraction range of (378- 420) µmol mol-1 and were prepared and/or value assigned either by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The standards were prepared using pure CO2 obtained from different sources, namely: combustion; Northern Continental and Southern Oceanic Air and a gas well source, with δ13C values ranging between -35‰ and -1‰. The isotopic composition of all standards was value assigned at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena (MPI-Jena).

Concepts: Metrology, Standard, Isotope, Calibration, Traceability, Max Planck Society, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Fisher Scientific

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Günther Wilke, Director of the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Coal Research from 1969 to 1993 passed away on December 9, 2016 at the age of 91. He profoundly influenced the field of organometallic chemistry and catalysis research, in particular homogeneous transition-metal catalysis. His findings have become fundamental elements of contemporary science, and many former co-workers whom he influenced and supported have held, or currently hold key positions in both academia and in industry.

Concepts: Quantum mechanics, Physics, Olefin metathesis, Inorganic chemistry, Germany, Werner Heisenberg, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn

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Christian Behrends studied biology at the University of Konstanz in Germany, but did his Diploma thesis externally with Michael Ehrmann in the School of Bioscience at Cardiff University, UK. He then pursued his PhD degree in Franz-Ulrich Hartl’s group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. For his postdoctoral work Christian received a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, with which he moved to the US and joined the laboratory of J. Wade Harper at Harvard Medical School. In 2011, he received an Emmy Noether Research Grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and started his own independent group at the Medical School of Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. He is also a recipient of an ERC starting grant. Research in Christian’s lab is focused on the basic mechanisms of autophagy, particularly concentrating on the role of ubiquitin signalling in autophagy, and the crosstalk between autophagy and other vesicular trafficking pathways.

Concepts: Germany, Academic degree, Doctorate, Alexander von Humboldt, Max Planck Society, Humboldt University of Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Munich

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“…︁ The challenge for chemistry is no longer just the synthesis of increasingly complex molecular structures, but to tailor functionalities. Chemistry is at the core of the molecular sciences, reaching out into many other areas. The Max Planck Society is committed to fostering progress in chemistry as one of the key fields of the future …︁” Read more in the Editorial by Martin Stratmann and Christoph Ettl.

Concepts: Time, Physics, Molecule, Atom, English-language films, Germany, Science fiction, Max Planck Society

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Front Cover: Investigating materials for optoelectronic applications under the focus of self-organization is fascinating, both from a scientific and industrial point of view, bringing together scientists from different countries and areas of knowledge. The design symbolically represents the transnational cooperation within the International Research Training Group “Self-Organized Materials for Optoelectronics” (IRTG 1404) as an assembly station: Within the IRTG 1404 the knowledge and resources from Korean and German supply lines-Seoul National University, Hannam University, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research-are combined together to generate new scientific results on this interdisciplinary topic.

Concepts: Science, Germany, Printing press, Max Planck Society, Otto Hahn, Johannes Gutenberg, Mainz, University of Mainz

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Melina Schuh received her diploma degree in biochemistry from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, where she completed her Diploma thesis with Stefan Heidmann and Christian Lehner. She went on to do her PhD with Jan Ellenberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2009, after a bridging postdoc with Jan, Melina started her own group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, UK. Since January 2016, she is a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, and will establish a new department focussing on meiosis. She is an EMBO Young Investigator and a recipient of the 2014 Lister Institute Research Prize, the 2014 Biochemical Society Early Career Award and the 2015 John Kendrew Young Scientist Award. Her lab is studying meiosis in mammalian oocytes, including human oocytes.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Molecular biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Germany, Biophysics, Max Planck Society

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Didier Stainier is a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim, Germany. Having spent most of his career in the USA using zebrafish to study organ development, Didier recently moved back to Europe and is now branching out to study organ development in mice. At a recent conference, we caught up with Didier and asked him about his career, his thoughts on funding, view on morpholinos and his advice for young researchers.

Concepts: Heart, United States, Germany, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Max Planck Society, Berlin, Munich

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Interview with Professor Jasminka Godovac-Zimmermann, PhD by Claire Raison (Commissioning Editor) Professor Jasminka Godovac-Zimmermann is Head of the Proteomics and Molecular Cell Dynamics Group at University College London, UK. Professor Godovac-Zimmermann trained at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Germany, and specialized in protein chemistry. Her research focuses on proteomics in cancer and systems biology. Here she talks about the clinical impact of her work and her hopes and predictions for how proteomics and diagnostics could work together in future.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Molecular biology, Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Germany, University College London, Max Planck Society

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Thomas Wollert pursued his PhD in the laboratories of Wolf-Dieter Schubert and Dirk Heinz at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany. In 2008, he moved to the USA for a postdoctoral position with James Hurley at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, as an EMBO Long Term Fellow. In 2010, Thomas returned to Germany to start his own group at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried. His work has been recognised with awards from the German Society for Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and the German Genetics Society. More recently, Thomas received the 2014 Walter Flemming Medal from the German Society for Cell Biology, the 2015 EMBO Young Investigator Award and the 2015 Eppendorf Prize for Young European Investigators. His laboratory combines biophysics with cell biology in order to study the process of autophagosome formation.

Concepts: DNA, Molecular biology, Biology, Chemistry, Germany, Max Planck, Max Planck Society, Munich

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Earth system models demonstrate large uncertainty in projected changes in terrestrial carbon budgets. The lack of inclusion of adaptive responses of vegetation communities to the environment has been suggested to hamper the ability of modeled vegetation to adequately respond to environmental change. In this study, variation in functional responses of vegetation has been added to an Earth System Model (ESM) based on ecological principles. The restriction of viable mean trait values of vegetation communities by the environment, called ‘habitat filtering’, is an important ecological assembly rule and allows for determination of global scale trait-environment relationships. These relationships were applied to model trait variation for different plant functional types (PFTs). For three leaf traits (specific leaf area, maximum carboxylation rate at 25 °C, and maximum electron transport rate at 25 °C) relationships with multiple environmental drivers, like precipitation, temperature, radiation and CO2 , were determined for the PFTs within the Max Planck Institute ESM. With these relationships, spatiotemporal variation in these formerly fixed traits in PFTs was modeled in global change projections (IPCC RCP8.5 scenario). Inclusion of this environment-driven trait variation resulted in a strong reduction of the global carbon sink by at least 33% (2.1 Pg C yr(-1) ) from the 2(nd) quarter of the 21(st) century onward compared to the default model with fixed traits. In addition, the mid and high latitudes became a stronger carbon sink and the tropics a stronger carbon source, caused by trait-induced differences in productivity and relative respirational costs. These results point towards a reduction of the global carbon sink when including a more realistic representation of functional vegetation responses, implying more carbon will stay airborne, which could fuel further climate change. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Ecology, Natural environment, Carbon, Climate change, Specific leaf area, Max Planck Society