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Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2011

68 Forschungszentrum Jülich | Annual Report 201168 Software for biotechnologists Microorganisms are sought-after helpers in industry, where they produce active ingredients for drugs, as well as base chemicals and food. The metabolism of the microbial cells comprises multiple branches in a large network. Most sub- stances are not just involved in one re- action but in several. These reactions of- ten produce by-products that can inhibit or accelerate other processes. Jülich scientists have developed soft- ware called Omix that visualizes these metabolic networks in a clear and ap- pealing manner. “Using Omix, biological data can be visualized in metabolic net- work maps, comparable to weather data shown on a map,” says Omix developer Dr. Peter Droste from the “Modelling and Simulation” group at the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-1). Since 2010, the Jülich biotechnologists have been making Omix available for down- load on a web server. In order to utilize the software, users from universities and other non-commercial research in- stitutions just have to register – in April 2012, more than 250 scientists had al- ready done so. Researchers in industry can purchase a company licence. In order to familiarize their custom- ers with the software, the Jülich biotech- nologists organized a workshop over several days at Forschungszentrum Jül- ich in 2012, which was attended by fif- teen participants from all over the world. Droste also trained scientists at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby, the University of Technology of Compiègne in France, as well as the pharmaceutical company Sandoz. Since October 2011, the Jülich biotechnolo- gists have also been offering other soft- ware to external users. “13CFLUX2 is a highly specialized program that allows users to calculate the rate at which the individual metabolic reactions take place in living microbial cells from indi- rect experimental data,” says Dr. Katha- rina Nöh, an expert in the analysis of material fluxes at IBG-1. By April 2012, three companies had already purchased company licences for 13CFLUX2 and an- other 27 users had acquired a licence free of charge. “Our main goal in provid- ing 13CFLUX2 and the accompanying training events is to establish coopera- tions with other renowned scientists and to publish results together with them,” says Nöh. She and Droste be- lieve that making new contacts and re- ceiving new impetus are usually more valuable for research than licence fees. Dr. Katharina Nöh analyses the complex material flows in microbial cells. These metabolic pathways can be visualized using the Omix program.