Little animals – big benefits
Antoni van Leeuwenhoek was one of the first people to see them: tiny creatures romping about in ponds, puddles and human saliva. He christened the small, multiform creatures, which he discovered around 1675 with the help of his unique homemade microscope, “dierken” (Dutch for “little animals”). In English, they became “animalcula”. The hobby researcher sent his observations to the renowned Royal Society in London. They reacted sceptically at first. However, his discovery was reviewed and confirmed.
Today, the animalcula are called microorganisms. Researchers have long since begun to observe not only the outer shell, but also the inner life and metabolism of the tiny organisms, such as bacteria. Their ability to grow under the most adverse conditions, digest toxic substances and produce materials with low energy input makes them highly interesting – also for industry. Our cover story shows how Jülich biotechnologists use them in their endeavour to establish a biobased recycling management – in which bacteria use plastic and plant waste as nutrients and thereby produce new raw materials.
You can also read what shock-frozen molecules can reveal about Alzheimer’s and diabetes, how artificial intelligence helps to map the brain, and what the latest upgrade of the Jülich supercomputer promises.
We hope you enjoy this issue.
Your effzett editorial team
Authors of this issue: Marcel Bülow, Janosch Deeg, Dr. Frank Frick, Christian Hohlfeld, Anke Krüger, Jannis Lindner, Dr. Regine Panknin, Martha Peters, Dr. Arndt Reuning, Tobias Schlößer, Dr. Barbara Schunk, Brigitte Stahl-Busse, Angela Wenzik, Erhard Zeiss
Photo: Veronika Richterová, Roses (2007), Foto: Michal Cihlář, MONTAGE: SeitenPlan