Germany's Max Planck Society is co-financing the establishment of a new research centre at the University of Aarhus, Jutland. The Center for Geomicrobiology will gain DKK 22 m (USD 39.6 m) from the Danish National Research Foundation and a similar sum from the Max Planck Society, while a sum from the University of Aarhus will make the total budget DKK 50 m (USD 9 m) over a 5 year period. It is the first time the Max Planck Society, which runs 78 institutes in Germany, is co-financing a research centre outside Germany.
Professor Bo Barker Jørgensen, director of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, Germany, will be heading the new centre, while continuing his affiliation to the institute in Bremen. "The discoveries in recent years of living microorganisms deep down in the multi-million year old seabed sediments and even in hard rock formations have seriously moved the boundaries for our understanding of the conditions under which life can exist".
Some of the questions the centre aims to answer are: What keeps life going? Are there energy sources that we do not know about? Do the microorganisms live on energy from the earth's natural radioactivity?
Jørgen Bundgaard, head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Aarhus, says: "The new centre, which will open 1 October, will attract many new capable researchers from the whole world and open completely new inter-disciplinary research fields, especially research which combines biology and geology."
The news was reported by regional daily newspaper Nordjyske and in a press release from the University of Aarhus.