2009 BRAIN

Terroir, towers and termites

Vor der BRAIN AG in Zwingenberg

Second SEC technology tour to Zwingenberg

Terroir and towers

The Senior Expert Chemists (SEC) met together with the retirees of the VAA-Werksgruppe Industriepark Wolfgang (Hanau) on June 16, 2009 for the second SEC-Technology-Tour in Zwingenberg an der Bergstrasse. After a tour of Zwingenberg, the ascent to Auerbach Castle began through the vineyards, where the Riesling thrives on granite soil . It is precisely this terroir that gives Bergstrasse wine the mineral freshness for which it is so popular.

A knowledgeable guide provided facts about the castle and the history of the Middle Ages at Auerbach Castle. The Counts of Katzenelnbogen had built the mighty castle in 1222 to secure their benefices on the Bergstrasse against the mighty Kurmainz. When the family died out in 1479, their significant fortune went to the Landgraviate of Hesse. In the meanwhile bright weather, the pensioners refreshed themselves with a picnic in the castle courtyard before starting their way back to Zwingenberg.


Holger Zinke and Martin Langer from BRAIN (Biotechnology Research and Information Network) were waiting for them in Zwingenberg. The company is a pioneer and leader in white biotechnology. This specialist area uses nature's entire toolbox to replace conventional processes in the chemical industry with more environmentally friendly biological processes. Zinke, who has a doctorate in molecular genetic engineering, is Chairman of the Board of Management of Brain and was awarded the German Environmental Prize in 2008 [ Nachr. Chem. 2008, 56,1157].

In the most impressive way, the visitors learned about the enormous variety of chemical processes that take place in nature. For example in a microorganism called Acidanus ambivalens, which feels at home at 80 ° C and a pH value of 2.5. It has a cell membrane, albeit a somewhat unusual one, and inside it produces, for example, the same amino acids as the higher living beings. And that's not all: it doesn't need anything other than sulfur, carbon dioxide and ammonia to live. Seasoned industrial chemists will stretch their necks: a whole range of chemical processes based on CO2 and only sulfur as an energy source!

Or the termites, who are known to live exclusively on wood, even though they - like us humans - are not actually able to digest the constituents of the wood. To do this, they cultivate microorganisms in their digestive tract that produce cellulases and hemicellulases to break down the wood. Of course, these microorganisms are passed on from generation to generation!

The special know-how of the employees at BRAIN is that they extract the DNA of numerous organisms from any sample extremely gently and analyze their sequence. Even if most of the organisms themselves cannot be cultivated, their DNA fragments can be cloned and stored in a format that allows screening at any time. A core piece of Brain is therefore a very rapidly growing metagenome library of currently 200 million clones. They encode an abundance of new enzymes or entire metabolic processes - that is nature's toolkit.

BRAIN's list of cooperation partners reads like a who's who of the chemical and biochemical industry. BRAIN works with you on projects such as detergent enzymes that break down dirt particles at 40 ° C instead of 60 ° C. In Germany alone this would mean 1.3-10 6 t less CO 2 emissions!

Special thanks from the visitors also go to Holger Zinke and Martin Langer. They made a major contribution to the fact that the excursion to the early summer mountain road had a scientific climax. This also shows the enthusiasm of the seniors at BRAIN, even if they had at least a four-hour hike behind them. biochemistry to touch and taste was the end of the day in the "Golden Lion", the parent company of the Simon-Bürkle winery in Zwingenberg.

Wolfgang Gerhartz

Photo gallery

This page has been machine translated. If you have any feedback or comments please feel free to contact us.

last modified: 18.08.2023 18:29 H from Translator