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Soundscapes, Cancer Cells, Archaea

Three Freiburg researchers receive funding from the Carl Zeiss Foundation for their post-doc projects

Soundscapes, Cancer Cells, Archaea

Amandine Gasc, Constanze Lamprecht und Tessa Quax (from left). Photos: private, Ulli Engleder, private

Through its junior development program 2017, the Carl Zeiss Foundation is supporting three post-doctoral research projects at the University of Freiburg. For up to two years all three post-doctoral students Dr. Amandine Gasc, Dr. Constanze Lamprecht and Dr. Tessa Quax will receive an annual sum of 100,000 euros. The Carl Zeiss Foundation funds research work in the natural and engineering sciences through this program. This year's call for funding focused on topics from life sciences, except medicine and pharmacy, from chemistry and digitalization projects that are related to life sciences or chemistry.

Amandine Gasc, Geobotany: "'Soundscape'-based indicators for biodiversity in European forests" 
The "soundscape" of any kind of habitat is made up of tones and sounds that have a biological, geophysical and human origin. Soundscape ecology is a new field of study that unifies aspects of landscape ecology, psychoacoustics, bioacoustics and acoustic ecology. This research approach examines, among other things, to which extent and why various soundscape components change when ecosystems change or are destroyed such as through more intense land use, climate change or species extinction. In her project Amandine Gasc seeks to quantify the composition and diversity of species in European forests by relying on acoustic indicators. By using automatic recording devices, she will collect the soundscapes in 60 different forests throughout Finland, Poland, Germany and Italy. At every site she will compare the forests, which differ in the number of tree species – where plant biodiversity is higher, there must be more types of animal species as well. Using this approach, Gasc wants to clarify as to whether acoustic indicators are appropriate for ecological assessments of ecosystems in general. In addition, she will develop a guideline to explain how soundscape approaches can be utilized in research and conservation.

Update 28.08.2017: Dr. Amandine Gasc will not be accepting the postdoctoral scholarship from the Carl Zeiss Foundation as she has taken on a full-time research position in France in the interim.

Constanze Lamprecht, Biophysics: „Biophysical analysis of protein-lipid interactions – cancer-specific association of Hsp70-1A with the cell membrane"
Cancer cells partly create their cell membrane from different lipids than healthy cells and other proteins are sometimes stored in this membrane. The exploration of the connections between cancer-specific membrane proteins and cancer-specific membrane lipids has only just begun. Using the storage of the protein Hsp70-1A in the cell membrane that only occurs in cancer cells, Constanze Lamprecht is examining the interaction between proteins and lipids on the singular molecular and singular cell level. Hsp70-1A is customarily only produced through effort and heat in order to protect the cell during heightened periods of stress and is limited to the cell's interior. With many types of tumors, however, it has been detected on the cell's surface and seems to be connected to the development of resistance to radiation and chemotherapy and a heightened tendency toward metastasis. The specific cause and the role that membrane integration of Hsp70-1A in cancer cells plays are still unclear. The key could lie in the protein's interaction with cancer-specific lipids, thereby delivering important insights into the cause for cancer and possible new therapies to treat it.

Tessa Quax, Biology: „Surface structures of archaea and their original role in interacting with their surroundings"
The ability to perceive environmental stimuli and to react with targeted movements is one of the essential characters of any organism. Archaea have developed a unique motility structure for this purpose. The single-celled, nucleus-free creatures are the most commonly spread organisms on the planet. Comprising 20 percent of the marine microbial biomass, they are considered an essential part of the nutrient cycle. Their ability to adapt to extreme living conditions – such as hot sulfur springs, hot springs in the depths of the ocean or extreme salty seas – makes them interesting for biotechnological research. You can even find archaea on human skin and in our intestines. Tessa Quax is studying the molecular mechanisms of signal transference from the surrounding environment on motility structures in the model organisms H. volcanii and M. maripaludis. Both are related to archaea found in the human intestinal tract. Established genetic, biochemical and microscopic research methods exist for both. The findings are meant to contribute to better understanding archaea's ability to populate the human intestines and interact with their surroundings and to comprehend more precisely their possible influences on human health.

Dr. Constanze Lamprecht
Institute of Physics/Experimental Polymer Physics
Tel.: 0761/203-5790

Dr. Tessa Quax
Institute of Biology II - Microbiology
Tel.: 0761/203-2631

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