Welcome to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology

Welcome to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology is a world-class institution whose research focusses on the principles, mechanisms and effects of evolutionary change.  It comprises three departments (Evolutionary Genetics, Evolutionary Theory, and Microbial Population Biology) and numerous independent research groups.  It employs nearly 200 people from more than 30 nationalities.
 
IMPRS Retreat in Flensburg 

IMPRS Retreat in Flensburg
 

60 doctoral researchers (DRs) enjoyed their first in-person retreat in three years.

This year's IMPRS retreat took place in Flensburg from 4 to 6 October, which many of the participants took advantage of to travel by train. Instead of the usual presentation sessions, the organising team had put together a programme that gave the participants time for an informal exchange with each other, with the group leaders present and with the guest speakers Jens Krause from Humboldt University Berlin and Mathieu Groussin from CAU Kiel.
 

Players keep track of the cooperation imbalance in their repeated interaction.

Evolution of Cooperation through cumulative reciprocity

Understanding reciprocal cooperation is a key element to of understanding how people work together. Whether it is friends who exchange favours, animals who exchange food or services, or nations that coordinate their policies, all these are essentially reciprocal interactions. Stable reciprocity requires that people are prepared to help others but that they fight back when being exploited. But what are the rules that ensure cooperation can flourish while at the same time protecting individuals being taken advantage of?
 

Social Rewarding

Why do we learn to reward cooperation?

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Plön show that reputation plays a key role in determining which rewarding policies people adopt. Using game theory, they explain why individuals learn to use rewards to specifically promote good behaviour.
 

Hinrich Schulenberg

Kiel evolutionary biologist receives the prestigious Max Planck Fellowship a second time

Max Planck Society honours Prof. Hinrich Schulenburg from Kiel University for his scientific work and promotion of evolutionary research in the Kiel area

The Moran Bd update mechanism with continuous mutation is shown for a small graph. An individual is first selected to reproduce with probability proportional to its fitness. The offspring mutates with probability μ, and its fitness f' is sampled from a distribution ρ(f',f), where f is the parent’s fitness. A neighboring individual is then chosen for death at random among the neighboring nodes, and the offspring is placed in the empty node.

Which Population Structures Maximize Evolutionary Fitness?

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Plön have shown that population structures that enhance the effect of selection do not necessarily also lead to higher fitness.  Instead, it is crucial for maximizing fitness that detrimental mutations are prevented from becoming established.

New bacterial species discovered in the intestine

New bacterial species discovered in the intestine

Researchers from MPI-EB Plön and Kiel University hope that the newly described species will provide a better understanding of the evolution of the genus Bacteroides as part of a healthy microbiota.

Alexandra Zoe Worden has been elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. She is a professor of ecology at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and at Kiel University. She is also a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. Photo: Todd Walsh/MBARI

Researcher from Schleswig-Holstein becomes member of Leopoldina

The German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina elected Alexandra Zoe Worden, Professor of the Biology of Oceanic Ecosystems at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Kiel University, as well as Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, as a new member in May. The membership certificate will be conferred in a formal ceremony in April 2023. The Leopoldina represents German research abroad. With around 1,600 members from more than 30 countries, it is the largest science academy in Germany and combines expertise from almost all research areas.

The path to the fitness summit. The younger the genes, the faster they adapt.

Young genes adapt faster than old ones

A new study from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the University of Sussex in the UK shows that the age of a gene determines how fast they adapt. These findings demonstrate how gene evolution occurs as an “adaptive walk” through time.

Volvox daughter colonies within a Volvox mother colony.

Evolution and ecological competition of multicellular life cycles

New studies by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology show that competition between different evolutionary developmental stages of multicellular life cycles can be important for the development of an entire population. Without direct competition, only the growth rate of a population determines which life cycle prevails. Ecological competition, on the other hand, can lead to the selection of completely different life cycles.

Disocuri Workshop

Successful completion of the Disocuri workshop "Physical and chemical determinants of biological evolution"

In the week of 5-9 September 2022, a workshop on "Physical and chemical determinants of biological evolution" took place at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön. The aim of the workshop was to deepen the cooperation with the Dioscuri Centre for Physics and Chemistry of Bacteria of the Institute of Physical Chemistry PAN in Warsaw, Poland, led by Bartek Waclaw.

Individual genetics helps determine composition of the gut microbiome

Individual genetics helps determine composition of the gut microbiome

CRC 1182-research team finds evidence in large genome study that points to genetics influencing the composition of an organism's microbial colonization

The T6SS, an all-rounder of many - but not all - bacteria.

The T6SS, an all-rounder of many - but not all - bacteria.

The type VI secretion system (T6SS) is a molecular mechanism that enables certain bacteria to kill competitors, manipulate host cells and absorb nutrients. Who would want to be without such superpowers? In fact, this secretion apparatus is widespread among bacteria. At the same time, however, there are many bacterial species that completely lack this feature. Even among strains of the same species, some have a T6SS and others do not. What could this be related to?

Laying of the foundation stone: New building at the Max Planck Institute in Plön officially started

Laying of the foundation stone: New building at the Max Planck Institute in Plön officially started

The foundation work on the shore of the Schöhsee has been completed. Today's laying of the foundation stone is now the official start of construction for the new building of the research institute in Plön.

Why do we age? The role of natural selection

Why do we age? The role of natural selection

The evolution of aging is a particularly exciting field in theoretical evolutionary research. Scientists are trying to figure out why and when the phenomenon of aging developed over the course of evolution. Mathematical models can help to develop theories for a better understanding of aging. At the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, intensive research has also been carried out in this area in recent years in the Department of Evolutionary Theory.
 

Animal vaccines with self-spreading viruses

Animal vaccines with self-spreading viruses

Since the first lab-modified virus capable of replication was generated in 1974, an evidence-based consensus has emerged that many changes introduced into viral genomes are likely to prove unstable if released into the environment. On this basis, many virologists would question the release of genetically modified viruses that retain the capacity to spread between individual vertebrate hosts. Researchers from Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States now point out in a policy piece that despite these concerns, self-spreading vaccines for animals are being researched in Europe and the US. They are intended to limit the spread of animal diseases or disease spillover to humans.

Tracking down the origin of cholera pandemics

Tracking down the origin of cholera pandemics

The bacterium Vibrio cholerae is the causative agent of the diarrheal disease cholera and is responsible for seven known pandemics. The seventh cholera pandemic began in 1961 and is still active. Unlike previous pandemics, it is caused by cholera strains of a slightly different type. How did the modified cholera strains develop and spread, and what might have contributed to their success? Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön and CAU Kiel, in an international team with colleagues from City College New York and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, have now gained new insights into a molecular mechanism that provides insight into the interactions between cholera bacteria and may have played a role in the emergence of the seventh pandemic.

Transposable Elements: What role do they play in genome evolution?

Transposable Elements: What role do they play in genome evolution?

„Transposable elements (TEs)" are small DNA segments found in nearly all genomes across the tree of life. Their function is not fully understood, but their properties are remarkable: they can integrate themselves into DNA and also replicate there on their own, independent of their host. Therefore, it is assumed that the proliferation of TEs has contributed decisively to the genome size of  eukaryotes. However, TEs are also found in prokaryotes, which have much smaller genomes. Moreover, their genomes are significantly streamlined, meaning a much smaller proportion is non-coding. What's behind this?
 

News

IMPRS Retreat in Flensburg
 

November 01, 2022

This year's IMPRS retreat took place in Flensburg from 4 to 6 October, which many of the participants took advantage of to travel by train. Instead of the usual presentation sessions, the organising team had put together a programme that gave the ...

Understanding reciprocal cooperation is a key element to of understanding how people work together. Whether it is friends who exchange favours, animals who exchange food or services, or nations that coordinate their policies, all these are ...

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Plön show that reputation plays a key role in determining which rewarding policies people adopt. Using game theory, they explain why individuals learn to use rewards to specifically promote good behaviour.

- Joint press release by Kiel University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology Plön -

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Our cycling metre of this year's Stadtradeln in Plön.
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