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the ABC of Algae

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The universe of algae is a diverse and fascinating one: biologists are discovering ever new species, they play an important role in marine ecology and substantially influence the global climate. But many of their secrets remain unsolved. How do the species communicate with each other? Why is it that some algae can heal their own wounds? And how do they defend themselves against herbivores? Chemist Georg Pohnert wants to get to the bottom of these mysteries. That is why he has assembled a young team of biologists, chemists, and biochemists in Jena. They are predominantly fascinated by the language of algae: they send chemical signals, which are composed of special molecules. To date it is unclear how algae produce these substances and how they receive the signals. The detective work then begins.

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Inconspicuous all-rounders

They heal wounds, defend themselves against herbivores, and send each other warning signals: algae are some of the most fascinating aquatic inhabitants. Researchers from Jena now want to decode their secretive language.

Wounded? Superglue!

Even the smallest injury can be life-threatening for the green alga Caulerpa. It has therefore developed a particularly effective wound protection system. The researchers from Jena are close to uncovering its secret.

Marker from the sea

The researchers from Jena want to make the wonderful properties of the Caulerpa alga available to humans. Can caulerpenin be synthetically reproduced in the laboratory?

Screams in the lab

Algae raise the alarm as soon as hungry fish or parasites approach. How exactly this works is the focus of analysis by researchers in Jena, notwithstanding technological difficulties.

A relationship for life

Bacteria needed urgently: the green alga Ulva is most comfortable in the company of certain microorganisms – when they are present in the water, the “sea salad” thrives magnificently. The researchers want to find out which are the specific bacteria that allow the algae to fair so well.

Self-defence for algae

Many crustaceans have a preference for algae. But the latter know how to defend themselves: they release a fruchtschädigende substance. Does this self-defence system also affect other marine organisms?

Fragile beauty

Coralline algae armour themselves with filigree plates. When viruses penetrate the cell however, they destroy the calcareous shield. How does the biochemical process work exactly?

Bacterial blanket for medicine

Today in a Petri dish, tomorrow in the operating theatre: the chemists from Jena have developed a bacterial cellulose, which will in future be used in medicine as vascular or cartilage replacement.

Spurned greens

Snails find mosses positively disgusting. Why? The researcher from Jena analyses the active bio-defence of the small plants.

Success as a team

Many weeks of exciting research lie behind the young scientists from Jena. How do they assess their studies today? And what do they make of their work with / in front of the camera?
Aks the Scientists
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*) The Project

Can algae talk? Yes, they can! But how do they do it? That is what chemists Caroline Kurth and Andrea Bauer from Jena want to find out. The goal of the research group led by Professor Georg Pohnert is to decode the biochemical communications of marine algae and bacteria. For their experiments the scientists don’t exclusively work in their laboratory in Jena, the project often calls for “fieldwork” on one of Europe’s coasts.

Caroline Kurth & Andrea Bauer

Chemists Caroline Kurth and Andrea Bauer from the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena want to decode the language of algae. They belong to Professor Georg Pohnert’s research team, which is entirely dedicated to the biochemical communication of marine algae.
The chemists Caroline Kurth and Andrea Bauer from Jena are decoding the biochemical means of communication of algae.

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