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In some areas, killer whales feed primarily on sea mammals and big fish like tuna and sharks and are then threatened by PCBs. In areas where the killer whales primarily feed on small fish like herring, they are less threatened. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
In areas where the killer whales primarily feed on small fish like herring, they are less threatened. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
Killer whales hunt together to gather fish in big, isolated schools. Photo: Audun Rikardsen – www.audunrikardsen.com
PCB transport in the food chains: When foreign hazardous substances enter the marine environment, they are assimilated into the first link in the food chain, phytoplankton. The phytoplankton is consumed by zooplankton, which in turn is consumed by smaller fish, etc. The chemicals accumulate in each link of the food chain, and this means that killer whales that feed on large animals in contaminated areas may contain concentrations of PCBs so high that the survival of the species is threatened. Killer whales that primarily feed on smaller fish are not threatened in the same way. 
Population development: By collecting data from around the world and loading them into population models, the researchers can see that 10 out of 19 populations of killer whales are affected by high levels of PCBs in their body. PCBs particularly affect the reproduction and immune system of the whales. The situation is worst in the oceans around Brazil and the UK where the model predicts that populations have been cut in half over the first decades since the use of PCBs became widespread. Here, the models predict a high risk that the species will disappear within a 30-40-year period. The line indicates median values, while the shaded field shows the variation.

2018.11.01 |

PCB pollution threatens to wipe out killer whales

More than forty years after the first initiatives were taken to ban the use of PCBs, the chemical pollutants remain a deadly threat to animals at the top of the food chain. A new study, just published in the journal Science, shows that the current concentrations of PCBs can lead to the disappearance of half of the world’s populations of killer…

Figure: Katharina Markmann.

2018.09.25 |

How leaves talk to roots

New findings show that a micro RNA from the shoot keeps legume roots susceptible to symbiotic infection by downregulating a gene that would otherwise hinder root responses to symbiotic bacteria. These findings help us understand what it takes to make nitrogen-fixing symbiosis efficient, and what we need to do to exploit it agronomically.

Professor Carsten Obel from the Department of Public Health (left) and Professor Kaj Grønbæk from the Department of Computer Science will be working with public and private sector players on innovative approaches to prevention and treatment in the Danish health service. Photo: Melissa B. Kirkeby Yildirim - AU Foto

2018.09.25 |

Project to promote health using data from the patients' smartphones

A new interdisciplinary research project aims at promoting health by analysing up-to-the-minute data, for example from patients' smartphones, and statistical data from the healthcare system. With DKK 20 mill. from Innovation Fund Denmark, two professors, one in public health and one in computer science, will be joining a number of companies,…

[Translate to English:] Foto: Lars Kruse, AU Foto

2018.09.24 |

Competitive tendering for research-based public-sector consultancy postponed

Competitive tendering postponed for one year.

Figure: Søren Lykke-Andersen.

2018.09.19 |

Co-evolution between a "parasite gene" and its host

A Danish research team has delineated a complex symbiosis between a ‘parasitic’ noncoding RNA gene and its protein coding ‘host’ gene in human cells.

2018.09.17 |

Advanced fluorescence microscopy reveals new aspects of protein pathways on the ribosome

The protein called translation elongation factor EF-Tu is a well-known player in the protein synthesis process. A new scientific article describes novel aspects of this well-described protein, which appears to play an even more important role in securing the accuracy of translation than previously assumed. The results may have an influence on the…

2018.09.17 |

Evolutionary biologist Tove Hedegaard Jørgensen awarded Prize of Honour for Pedagogics

Associate Professor Tove Hedegaard Jørgensen from the Department of Bioscience and ST Learning Lab has been awarded the The Aarhus University Anniversary Foundation Prize of Honour for Pedagogics in recognition of outstanding and groundbreaking teaching. The award is accompanied by a DKK 100,000 monetary award.

2018.09.17 |

Student of IT product development awarded Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II’s Travel Grant

At Aarhus University's annual celebration 2018, Karl-Emil Bilstrup, who is a master's degree student in IT product development, was awarded Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II’s Travel Grant of DKK 25,000. Read more about him and the other three award winners.

2018.09.17 |

Populations geneticist awarded honorary doctorate at AU

Professor Andrew G. Clark from Cornell University has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Aarhus University for his impressive research work on population genetics and genomics over the last 40 years.

You have to go against the flow and turn ideas upside down if you want to attract the attention of the VILLUM Experiment programme. Eight AU researchers have been able to do just this, and together they will be receiving DKK 15.3 million. (Ill: Colourbox)

2018.09.18 |

Experiments worth millions

The Villum Foundation is supporting bold technical and scientific research ideas for the second time. Researchers from Aarhus University are again on the list of recipients, with eight daring ideas totalling DKK 15.3 million.

AU researchers have completed a new successful screening strategy where they have identified novel inhibitors of αlpha-synuclein aggregation. This may help develop a cure for Parkinson's disease. (Image: Colourbox.com)
Graphical overview of a screening of 746,000 compounds for inhibitory effects of alpha-synuclein aggregation. (Graphics: Professor Daniel Otzen)

2018.09.11 |

New high-throughput screening study may pave the way for future Parkinson’s disease therapy

Parkinson's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease; currently there is no cure. Aggregation of the protein α-synuclein plays a key role in this disease. Together with a US drug company, AU researchers have now carried out a new screening strategy which has identified novel and structurally diverse aggregation inhibitors.

2018.09.10 |

Molecular switches are not just "on" or "off"

It is not always easy to see if a switch is on or off! A new study shows that the same can be true of a molecular switch. This knowledge gives a new insight into the molecular switches, the GTPases, many of which have medical potential.

Professor Poul Nissen (Photo: The Carlsberg Foundation)

2018.09.03 |

Poul Nissen awarded the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize 2018

Poul Nissen receives the Carlsberg Foundation Research Prize for his groundbreaking work in structural biology. The prize was given by HRH the Crown Princess, Minister of Higher Education and Science, Tommy Ahlers, and chairman of the Carlsberg Foundation, Flemming Besenbacher, as part of the annual banquet at the New Carlsberg Glyptotek on Sunday…