TUM – Latest news https://www.tum.de Latest news of TUM en TUM Sun, 05 Apr 2020 00:26:01 +0200 Sun, 05 Apr 2020 00:26:01 +0200 Regional cooperation in the coronavirus crisis https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35961/ The laboratories at the Straubing campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are cooperating with St. Elisabeth Hospital Straubing, which is taking swabs from patients and staff and sending the inactivated samples that are no longer infectious to the campus. Due to a lack of respective laboratory capacity in Straubing, to date the samples were being sent to Regensburg and Passau. With on-site analysis – campus and hospital are only around 300 meters apart – the time-consuming logistics for transporting the samples can be omitted, and results are available after only a few hours.

It took a good two weeks to set up the analysis process. “The key problem has been obtaining all the necessary reagents, as global demand has increased very strongly,” explains the head of the analysis team, Dr. Josef Sperl, who works at the Chair of Chemistry of Biogenic Resources under the supervision of Head of the Chair and Rector Prof. Volker Sieber. “Our laboratory is in contact with virologists and analysis experts all over the world, as the challenges are the same all over the world and joint discussions help everyone,” explains Dr. Sperl.

“We are in contact with all the relevant local partners,” explains Prof. Sieber. “In this way, the initiative got off the ground in a direct discussion between the directors of the hospital and the TUM campus. The hospital, where Prof. Rudolf Gruber and his staff ensure safe collection and inactivation of the samples, plays an important role in regional care." The campus is also in close contact with the responsible persons from the Department of Health and Disaster Control, as well as the Mayor, Markus Pannermayr.

Campus news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35961 Wed, 01 Apr 2020 14:51:42 +0200
Restricted operations extended until 17 April https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35957/ We all face unprecedented challenges to our work and private lives in the face of this corona pandemic. Rising to meet them requires our strength, flexibility, and ingenuity. In this period of mandatory social distancing, that feel so strange and unfamiliar to all of us, it is more important than ever that we remain connected and committed to our community.

Regrettably, our options for much needed personal exchange are limited under these difficult circumstances. Therefore, I would like to inform you on some latest developments at TUM:

  • Our TUM Students and employees show solidarity in action. Physicians, nurses and a various employees with experience in the provision of care and emergency treatment from all areas of TUM have offered their assistance to our university hospitals Munich rechts der Isar and the German Heart Center Munich, as well as to the public health departments. Over 300 students of the TUM School of Medicine have stepped up to volunteer in our clinics to support in the provision of care to infected patients through their personal efforts in their capacity as graduate assistants.
  • We are helping to procure personal protective equipment. As President, I remain in close communication with our university hospital rechts der Isar. We have provided support to purchase much needed supplies, such as breathing masks to protect health workers from infection. In the current situation, we sometimes have to revert to unconventional measures – we are currently working with UnternehmerTUM to explore the possibility of producing protective clothing ourselves for our hospital.
  • We conduct research to provide solutions. Our experts in medicine and life sciences are working hard to develop new rapid tests and life-saving medications to respond to the virus. Our university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar recently launched a clinical trial to test potential drugs in the fight against Covid-19 infection.
  • We provide the public with expert information. Our renowned virologist, Prof. Dr. med. Ulrike Protzer, advises the Free State and the Federal Government with scientifically sound recommendations for the containment of the corona pandemic. Every day, specialists from TUM and our university hospital Klinikum rechts der Isar appear in the media to provide reliable expert information on the corona virus, research on drugs, and the effects of the pandemic in medical, economic and ethical terms.
  • We are accelerating the digitalization of teaching to ensure the start of summer semester 2020. Restricted operations at TUM resulting from the spread of the virus hold consequences for our students and our teaching. It is incumbent upon us to expand our digital potential in teaching, both quickly and effectively. We are working at top speed to bring modern digital learning tools, interactive teaching methods and new forms of remote examination to our 42,000 students in an effort to minimize potential complications for the rapidly approaching summer semester.
  • We support the local economy. Together with UnternehmerTUM and TUM Start-ups, we have launched the Manage-and-More program to support the local economy in these precarious economic times.
  • WirVersusVirus. More than 10 teams from TUM, in many cases supported by physicians from the Klinikum rechts der Isar, participated in the #WirVersusVirus hackathon organized by the federal government to foster the potential of digitalization to keep us positively connected in times of social distancing. It was an open call for creative ideas, programs and digital projects from many spheres of life that might help in dealing with the corona pandemic. We will soon hear more of the best ideas – all of the projects will be available for viewing on YouTube.

As you see, the crisis has already prompted some pretty creative and heart-felt responses from our community – and everyone’s support is needed! Times like these remind us of the value of our university community. On behalf of the TUM Board of Management, I extend my deepest gratitude to all of you for keeping the university up and running through your tireless efforts.

Our particular thanks goes to our essential administrative staff in the offices of human resources and finance, as well as property management, who maintain operations despite severe restrictions in their ability to work on-site.

We especially thank those of you working steadfastly to rapidly expand our capacity for online teaching for the summer semester with the latest digital learning tools, interactive formats and new forms of remote examination for our students.

Many thanks goes, as well, to all of you working diligently from home, whether as a preventive measure due to illness or to care for your children, since the introduction of restricted operations.

Our greatest debt of gratitude and respect must be paid, however, to all those providing medical care in this critical situation – the many doctors, nurses, care providers and other employees in general care, intensive care and diagnostic units. They are giving all the best around the clock in the fight against Covid-19 and in the treatment of those afflicted with the disease – in spite of the dangers to their own health. They deserve the thanks of our entire TUM community!

I will keep you informed of all further developments. For now, I wish you and your families continued health and hope to see you all again in good spirits in the not-too-distant future.
Thomas F. Hofmann

Campus news news-35956 Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:35:00 +0100
Working together to promote digital learning https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35958/ TUM already has great experience in digital curricula. Circumstances now call for TUM to deliver modern digital learning tools, online class formats and new forms of electronic examinations even more quickly. "Our objective is to ensure that our students are not at a disadvantage in the upcoming summer semester and that they can continue their studies without substantial losses in terms of time or quality," says Thomas F. Hofmann, President of TUM.

All teaching staff and employees have been working with unprecedented dedication and great creativity to redeploy curricula and reorient the IT infrastructure to meet the new requirements. "This feat of strength can only be mastered with a considerable amount of additional financing," says Hofmann. "Therefore it is now important that the TUM community with its large circle of generously supporting patrons stands together."

Donate to the TUM University Foundation: www.tum-universitaetsstiftung.de/en/home/

Campus news news-35958 Mon, 30 Mar 2020 19:33:59 +0200
Medications against coronavirus in trial https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35953/ In a number of clinical studies, scientifically active physicians at the hospital are treating patients suffering from Covid-19 with medications that are still undergoing clinical trials, including the polymerase inhibitor Remdesivir among others. Remdesivir has a direct anti-viral effect and inhibits the reproduction of the virus. Originally developed to treat patients infected with Ebola, it has not yet been approved for clinical use. In laboratory testing the active ingredient has proven effective against the new SARS Coronavirus 2. The international study will investigate the efficacy and safety of the active ingredient in moderately and seriously ill patients. Other medications are undergoing clinical testing in other studies, including further anti-infectives and anti-inflammatory active ingredients.

Research news news-35953 Thu, 26 Mar 2020 11:35:40 +0100
Flavor research for consumer protection https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35952/ According to the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR), benzene is mainly absorbed by our bodies via the air we breathe. Non-smokers take in an average of 200 micrograms of benzene per day. Smokers take in around ten times as much. But our food can also contain traces of this harmful substance and thus contribute to the exposure.

When the Stiftung Warentest examined soft drinks in 2013, they came across small quantities of benzene. One drink contained just under 4.6 micrograms of benzene per liter. For comparison: In Germany, one liter of drinking water is allowed to contain only 1 microgram of the substance. At that time, experts at the Stiftung Warentest supposed that the odorant benzaldehyde was the cause of the benzene contaminations observed.

“As our research is specialized on odorants, we followed up on this supposition in the interest of consumer protection and at the suggestion of the German Association of the Flavor Industry (Deutscher Verband der Aromenindustrie, DVAI),” says lead author Stephanie Frank from the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich.

To do this, the team of scientists first established a reliable, highly sensitive quantitation method of benzene. Then, they carried out experiments with various model solutions which contained benzene-free benzaldehyde. The team also examined cherry juice produced under laboratory conditions, to which they also added the pure odorant.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35951 Thu, 26 Mar 2020 08:00:00 +0100
Operations under restrictions since 18 March 2020 https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35945/ During restricted operations at the Technical University of Munich, the following regulations will apply:

  • As of 6 pm on 18 March 2020, all TUM buildings on all campuses are accessible only to persons working in system-critical areas. These are persons who maintain the essential operations of the university, including essential administrative staff, staff involved in keeping animals and in animal research facilities, and support staff for long-term scientific experiments and technical infrastructure, such as the storage of chemicals and gases.
  • To maintain basic operations in the various units, tandem teams are established, where possible. They will alternately implement the most urgent measures in a coordinated effort.
  • All employees who do not work in system-critical areas will work from home during the designated period of restricted operations. They are to be reachable to their immediate superiors and their colleagues.
  • Operating hours (e.g. for advising services and departmental administrative offices) will be maintained. They are accessible by email or, with prior arrangement, by telephone.

The above regulations do not apply to TUM units associated with the University Hospital rechts der Isar and staff assigned to emergency on-call duty (e.g. the university fire department, etc.). For the Neutron Source FRM II, these regulations only apply in conjunction with the operating manual.

Notwithstanding these regulations, the state government has issued a general ban on entry to the university for persons who have travelled to one of the risk areas as classified by the Robert Koch Institute RKI within the last 14 days.

  • As previously announced, no teaching activities of any kind nor any examinations are taking place at TUM (unless otherwise ordered by the State of Bavaria, e.g. in connection with state exams).
  • Conferences, workshops and other events at TUM are prohibited. Meetings of small working groups are to be held only when absolutely necessary.
  • The library, branch libraries, as well as StudiTUM facilities and all student work spaces (e.g. CIP-Pool) are closed. Further information is available at www.ub.tum.de/en/.
  • The canteens in Munich, Garching, Freising and other facilities of the Munich Student Union have also suspended operations.

TUM is aware that the current situation will pose challenges with regard to childcare and that working from home is not always compatible with parental duties. We hope, however, to alleviate some of the strain with these regulations.  

We are sure that you will understand the need for these measures, which serve to protect you and the public in these extraordinary times. For now, please accept our best wishes for the health and wellbeing of you and your families. We look forward to seeing you all again, fit and well, in the very near future.

You will find current information and updates at www.tum.de/en/corona.


Campus news news-35945 Tue, 17 Mar 2020 19:06:00 +0100
Blocking sugar structures on viruses and tumor cells https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35948/ The laboratory directed by Arne Skerra, Professor of Biological Chemistry, has its focus on designing artificial binding proteins for therapeutic applications. The laboratory’s current research findings are paving the way for the development of new types of binding proteins for biological sugar structures, which play a significant role in cancer as well as infectious diseases.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35947 Tue, 17 Mar 2020 00:00:00 +0100
Analysis of whole brain vasculature https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35943/ Changes in the blood vessels are a hallmark of numerous brain disorders – from traumatic brain injury to stroke. Even diseases such as Alzheimer's show changes in the fine capillaries. In short, analysing the blood vessels is key to understanding both normal and pathological brain function. “Now we have come much closer to achieving that goal”, explains Ali Ertürk, Director of the Institute for Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at Helmholtz Zentrum München and Principal Investigator at the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research at the LMU University Hospital Munich.

Research news paul.piwnicki@tum.de news-35943 Fri, 13 Mar 2020 11:22:50 +0100
A molecular map for the plant sciences https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35941/ Every cell of any organism contains the complete genetic information, or the "blueprint", of a living being, encoded in the sequence of the so-called nucleotide building blocks of DNA. But how does a plant create tissues as diverse as a leaf that converts light into chemical energy and produces oxygen, or a root that absorbs nutrients from the soil?

The answer lies in the protein pattern of the cells of the respective tissue. Proteins are the main molecular players in every cell. They are biocatalysts, transmit signals inside and between cells, form the structure of a cell and much more.

"To form the protein pattern, it is not only important which proteins are present in a tissue, but, more importantly, in what quantities," explains Bernhard Kuster, Professor of Proteomics and Bioanalytics at TUM. For example, proteins of the photosynthesis machinery are found primarily in leaves, but also in seeds, yet at a thousand times lower levels.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35940 Thu, 12 Mar 2020 08:58:00 +0100
Fatal overproduction of antibodies https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35938/ Antibodies are vital for the survival of human beings. They typically consist of two longer and thus heavier amino acid chains and two lighter ones. In rare cases, the plasma cells multiply excessively, flooding the body with light antibody chains.

In people suffering from light chain amyloidosis (AL amyloidosis), these light chains are deposited as extremely fine fibers, so-called amyloid fibrils, in tissue or in organs. The disease is often recognized only after the deposits already compromise the function of organs. In many cases AL amyloidosis is fatal.

"To date, little was known about the exact cause of this amyloidosis," says Johannes Buchner, professor of biotechnology at the Technical University of Munich. “Depending on the organ affected, the symptoms vary considerably. Furthermore, each patient produces different types of antibodies. The disease is thus difficult to diagnose at an early stage.”

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35938 Tue, 10 Mar 2020 08:00:00 +0100
How drones can hear walls https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35936/ Can walls and flat surfaces be recognized using sound waves? Mathematicians have been studying this question from a theoretical standpoint for quite some time.

"The basic scenario is a room with flat walls, and maybe a ceiling and a floor," explains Prof. Gregor Kemper of the Chair of Algorithmic Algebra at TUM. The room is not assumed to be rectangular. It is also possible to measure the slope of the walls. Several microphones and a loudspeaker are contained in the room.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-35932 Fri, 06 Mar 2020 08:45:00 +0100
Research towards improved cochlear implants https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35937/ People with normal hearing perceive sound by means of hair cells located in the cochlea, the fluid-filled hollow part of the inner ear. These hair cells convert sonic vibrations into auditory nerve impulses which are then passed on to the brain where they cause hearing sensations.

For several decades it has now been possible to restore hearing in people with deafness or severe hearing loss at an amazingly high level with the help of cochlear implants. The implants use an external microphone to capture sound information from the air and transfer it to implanted electrodes. These electrodes directly stimulate the auditory nerve fibers in the inner ear with electric impulses, so that the patient can perceive sound once again.

Research news paul.piwnicki@tum.de news-35933 Thu, 05 Mar 2020 14:00:00 +0100
TUM among top 50 universities in 11 subjects https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35935/ To compile its rankings, the British recruitment firm QS surveys companies and researchers on the quality of universities. It also analyzes the number of citations of scientific papers as a measure of their importance. The indicators are assigned weightings based on the culture of the various subject areas.

In the latest edition, TUM moved up in some fields and achieved the following rankings:

•    Physics & Astronomy: 17 (in Germany: 1)
•    Electrical Engineering: 20 (in Germany: 1)
•    Agriculture & Forestry: 23 (in Germany: 3)
•    Chemistry: 23 (in Germany: 1)
•    Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering: 25 (in Germany: 2)
•    Architecture: 26 (in Germany: 2)
•    Materials Science: 31 (in Germany: 2)
•    Computer Science & Information Systems: 36 (in Germany: 1)
•    Chemical Engineering: 45 (in Germany: 3)
•    Civil and Structural Engineering: 47 (in Germany: 1)
•    Biological Sciences: 48 (in Germany: 3)

If the survey asks for the broad subject area of Engineering & Technology, TUM ranks 25th worldwide, in Natural Sciences 28th. The issue of the “QS World University Rankings”, which shows overall ratings for universities and also takes other indicators into account, was already released in mid-2019. TUM holds the number 55 position, which makes it the top-ranked German university for the fifth consecutive year.

TUM also regularly achieves excellent results in other international university rankings. For example, TUM ranks number six worldwide in the “Global University Employability Ranking”, in which companies rate the quality of graduates, and holds the number seven position among “Europe’s Most Innovative Universities”.

TUM in Rankings klaus.becker@tum.de news-35934 Wed, 04 Mar 2020 10:01:00 +0100
Preserved and fresh https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35931/ Who doesn’t know the story: time in the morning is short, we have to get through breakfast quickly. The fruit muesli is poured into the bowl, a few spoonfuls of yogurt on top, finished. Here, many people have perhaps started to speculate, how exactly do the raspberries look so fresh and tasty.

The technology which makes this possible is freeze drying. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg have now been able to examine this process more closely with the help of neutrons. For the first time, they succeeded in observing the direct transition from ice to water vapor during the freeze drying of particles in an experiment.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35930 Thu, 27 Feb 2020 08:00:00 +0100
Eat or be eaten https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35929/ For the first time, they did not just investigate one feeding type such as herbivores but the integrated feeding relationships across an entire ecosystem. Previous research examining the effects of biodiversity on the functioning of ecosystems focused mainly on single feeding levels (trophic levels) or simplified food chains.

„We have analyzed an entire feeding network – in other words, multitrophic interactions – above and belowground. This is indispensable for understanding the effects resulting from global species extinction,” explained Dr. Sebastian T. Meyer, a researcher at the Chair for Terrestrial Ecology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and lead author of the study.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35926 Tue, 25 Feb 2020 15:35:00 +0100
TUM strengthens compliance and entrepreneurship https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35920/ By strengthening its activities in the fields of compliance and entrepreneurship at the executive management level TUM is implementing another element of its Agenda 2030, which was successful last year in the German excellence competition.

The introduction of the Vice President Compliance function will further develop TUM rules of conduct. TUM has already adopted codes of conduct for diversity, research, fundraising as well as appointments and dual career. The intent is to promote the university-wide standardized implementation of rules of conduct and good scientific practice.

Prof. Angelika Görg will take up her position on April 1. She was the deputy Ombudsperson of TUM for three years, until 2019. The Ombudspersons provide advice on questions of good scientific practice and investigate cases of suspected scientific misconduct. From 1993 to 2009 the biochemist was professor for proteomics at TUM. The winner of numerous awards, Prof. Görg has also conducted research at the University of Michigan and the National Institutes of Health (USA). After she entered emeritus status, TUM named her an Emerita of Excellence, a group of outstanding personalities that support the university with their experience.

Prof. Helmut Schönenberger began in his function as Vice President Entrepreneurship on January 1, 2020. He was the co-founder of UnternehmerTUM in 2002 and has been the CEO of the TUM affiliated institute since then. Under his leadership UnternehmerTUM has become one of the largest and most successful centers for innovation and business creation in Europe. Last year TUM named him honorary professor for entrepreneurship practice. Schönenberger studied aviation and astronautics at the University of Stuttgart and management at TUM.

Campus news news-35920 Thu, 20 Feb 2020 10:49:19 +0100
Active droplets https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35918/ Actually, Prof. Job Boekhoven was studying the origins of life: Together with his team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the chemist wanted to understand how molecules in the primordial ocean had managed to combine and form the precursors of the first living cells.

"In our research work we experimented with oil droplets, among other things. We were especially interested in mechanisms that protect molecules from degradation. We found that unstable molecules that form oil droplets would survive much longer than molecules that cannot form droplets. In a sense, the droplets protect the molecules inside.”

However, the oily shield is not entirely impermeable: Some of the oil molecules react with the surrounding water. This hydrolysis causes the droplets to slowly but continuously lose mass and shrink until they eventually disappear. "The constant decay of these 'active droplets', led us to the idea of using them to dose drugs," recalls Boekhoven.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35918 Thu, 20 Feb 2020 08:58:41 +0100
Leading center for robotic assistance for the elderly https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35917/ One of the goals of the center is to enable robot GARMI to serve as a personal assistant for elderly people, helping them to perform everyday physical actions so that they can continue living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. In addition, doctors will be able connect remotely to the robot to interact directly with their patients for routine examinations and in emergencies. With the shortage of specialists in rural areas, this will be a vital technology in the future. Interdisciplinary teams at the Munich School of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MSRM) at TUM are working to make this vision a reality.

Campus news news-35917 Wed, 19 Feb 2020 10:39:19 +0100
Living in the city and dying in the city https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35915/ Dying is part of life. Or at least it should be. But very few people are willing to address this issue. "We see this, for example, in the fact that hospices tend to be accommodated in buildings that serve only that purpose, and are mostly located in quieter neighborhoods relatively far from the center of town," says Stefan Imhof of the Chair of Urban Architecture at TUM.

DaSein, a non-profit hospice organization, is planning to build a hospice in the Munich city center. This would enable residents to spend their last days at the heart of the city where they have spent their lives. In a cooperative project with DaSein, architecture students at TUM are creating architectural solutions to make this idea a reality.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-35915 Thu, 20 Feb 2020 11:43:00 +0100
"Challenge your political and business leaders" https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35913/ "I am urging you today to challenge your political and business leaders!" Ban Ki-moon told approximately 1,000 students in the main auditorium on Friday evening. "Only activism will make sure that your leaders will follow your voices." He added that the generation that is growing up in the digital age instinctively understand that people all over the world are linked with one another as global citizens, but that several of the most powerful states are attacking the principles of the United Nations.

Ban, Secretary General of the UN from 2007 to 2016, aimed particular criticism at the US government for its withdrawal from the nuclear agreement with Iran, from the INF disarmament treaty and the Paris agreement on climate change. Ban said that nuclear armament and climate change are currently the greatest dangers to the world, and the multilateral system is the best way to master them.

Campus news klaus.becker@tum.de news-35913 Mon, 17 Feb 2020 08:17:37 +0100
Lane change in the cytoskeleton https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35912/ All cells of higher organisms are permeated by a cytoskeleton that essentially consists of actin filaments and small protein tubes called microtubules. For a long time science considered the actin or microtubule networks as independent systems.

Today it is known that the two network types communicate with each other and thereby make vital cellular processes such as cell division or cell migration possible in the first place. However, it was still unknown how this collaboration works at the molecular level.

Dr. Zeynep Ökten from the Chair of Molecular Biophysics at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Erwin Frey, Professor of Statistical and Biological Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – with their teams – have now for the first time identified a molecular mechanism by the example of change of color among animals which explains the communication between both network systems, and revealed potential evolutionary paths.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35911 Wed, 12 Feb 2020 09:01:55 +0100
No exams on February 10, 2020 https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35910/ Campus news news-35909 Mon, 10 Feb 2020 09:18:34 +0100 Major project for Munich neurosciences https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35908/ "The goals of the project are to better diagnose severe neurological disorders, to understand their molecular causes and to monitor the course of therapy. High-performance mass spectrometry can make a decisive contribution to this", explains Prof. Bernhard Küster, professor of proteomics and bioanalysis at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and co-spokesperson of the research consortium.

Mass spectrometry permits the simultaneous and quantitative determination of minute quantities of thousands of biomolecules from tissues or body fluids. Such molecular profiles for proteins will now be brought into clinical use for the first time.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35907 Mon, 10 Feb 2020 10:15:00 +0100
"Cities are increasingly reaching their limits" https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35858/ Professor Drewes, where does our drinking water come from?

Most drinking water in Germany is taken from groundwater. This is ideal, since the natural subsurface already filters out pathogens and harmful substances from the water. And groundwater resources are well protected and relatively stable with regard to environmental factors such as temperature. But groundwater resources are limited at many locations in Germany. In these cases the groundwater is artificially augmented with surface water from rivers or lakes, or drinking water is acquired directly from large surface water reservoirs.

Is the amount of water in Germany constantly dropping?

Extreme weather events like floods and extended extreme dry periods will become more common in Germany. At the same time the spring run-off period will grow shorter. As a result, snow packs will melt much quicker and instead of recharging the groundwater will flow directly into the rivers. This can result in a rise in the number of floods, while at the same time the natural groundwater recharge will decline. This is a long-term trend which we can, however, already observe today. In the northern part of Bavaria in particular these developments are having very alarming impacts. The Franconian dry plateau ("Fränkische Trockenplatte"), which includes the cities of Würzburg and Schweinfurt, is traditionally an arid area with very limited groundwater reserves. This region is surrounded by highlands where many clouds shed their moisture in the form of rain. As a result, the groundwater reserves can't be recharged as quickly. Together with the impacts of climate change, today we’re already seeing increasing conflicts on use between agricultural irrigation requirements, the requirements of public drinking water supplies while also ensuring minimum ecologically base flows in rivers.

So this means we should conserve water?

Conserving water makes good sense in general. But we can't forget that our conservation measures also have to be compatible with the existing water infrastructure. If we save too much, less water flows through the pipes, which might mean water stagnation that results in hygienic problems with drinking water. And less water also means more concentrated wastewater, which can lead to formation of deposits in sewage systems and thus to high levels of corrosion. A minimum flushing effect is needed in order for the system to work properly. Of course other solutions would also be conceivable, but retooling this infrastructure, which has evolved over the course of 100 years or more, is no easy thing. And in many cities these infrastructures are also outdated and investments are urgently needed that are however only being pursued half-heartedly.

„Do we really need the highest possible water quality when cleaning our houses, flushing toilets and irrigating greenery or in agriculture? ”

What are possible solutions?

Every location is different and therefore calls for water solutions that are adapted to local circumstances. This means that future-oriented solutions for our water infrastructure also look very different. We can also question whether we have to always use potable water for every application. Do we really need the highest possible water quality when cleaning our houses, flushing toilets and irrigating greenery or in agriculture? Instead we should provide a water quality that fits the application. Today purified wastewater effluents have such a high quality that they can be directly discharged into our rivers. Of course, there are still several substances in these discharges that we don't want to have. For example, the conventional wastewater treatment processes do not entirely remove residual pharmaceuticals and pathogenic germs. In order to produce a quality level suitable for a large number of possible reuses, this means the water has to be treated further. We've developed new processes for this purpose.

What’s special about these processes?

We're driven by the desire to develop processes that are taking advantage of natural principles, are energy-efficient, have a low carbon footprint, and are low in producing waste materials. In the SMART process we are modifying operational conditions in such a way that we select for high-performance bacteria that are very good at breaking down trace organic chemicals and pathogenic germs that would survive in conventional treatment systems. Where very flexible solutions are required for instance due to seasonal demand variations, we combine physical separation methods like ceramic membranes with chemical processes such as ozonation. Ceramic membranes are expensive to buy, but their 20-year life expectancy is comparatively long. This results in lower costs over the entire life cycle, so the investment pays off in the end. The membrane is a very reliable barrier and filters out the pathogens, while any remaining trace organic chemicals are removed by ozone.

Are these procedures already in use?

We’re conducting a feasibility study in the Schweinfurt region where the need for alternative solutions has been recognized and there is great interest in adopting this approach. In order to implement unconventional solutions requires a dialogue with all stakeholders to discuss advantages and disadvantages with them. We're also currently preparing a demonstration project to investigate the technical feasibility for the region. Agriculture is an important stakeholder, since fruit crops and medicinal herbs have been grown in Schweinfurt for over 100 years, and these crops require irrigation. In order to address seasonal demand variations these irrigation systems and subsequent water treatment processes have to operate in a highly dynamic way and ideally will function remote less. This is why we're employing the latest in sensor technologies and cloud-based approaches which is considering weather forecast data and measured values in real-time and integrate them in control processes.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-35857 Thu, 06 Feb 2020 10:00:00 +0100
Bumble bees prefer a low-fat diet https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35888/ Bees are an important factor for our environment and our sustenance. Without insect pollination, many plant species – including various crops – cannot reproduce. “Bee mortality therefore affects food supply for human beings,” stated Professor Sara Leonhardt, who specializes in plant-insect interactions. All of the worldwide more than 20,000 bee species need to be considered. Among these, bumble bees are of particular importance besides the famous honey bee.

“Bees obtain most of their nutrients from their main food sources, which are nectar and pollen. While nectar is mainly a source of carbohydrates, pollen contains most of the other necessary nutrients: proteins, fat, minerals and vitamins. Until today, most bee researchers assumed that bees, like other herbivores, mainly consider the protein content when choosing their food,” Professor Leonhardt explained.

Using a two-step mechanistical approach that included learning and feeding experiments, the group established a new way to literally keep a close eye on the feeding habits of insects.

Research news katharina.baumeister@tum.de news-35873 Wed, 05 Feb 2020 14:00:00 +0100