Contemporary biology covers an enormous scale, from research on basic cellular processes to predictions about global climate change. But this spectrum has not been continuous: While biologists have long known that organisms physically adapt to their natural environment, too often the underlying genetic, molecular and biochemical processes have remained a mystery. The Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Developmental Biology is uniquely poised to help close this gap. At the atomic level, the institute investigates how protein machines work. At the molecular and subcellular level, the focus lies on how proteins and RNA molecules cooperate to regulate fundamental processes such as transcription, translation and signal transduction, and how this is dependent on the location of proteins within the cell. At the tissue level, the institute tries to determine how cells interact to produce complex outcomes during development. Finally, at the whole organism level, it is of interest how the naturally occurring interactions between microbes, plants and animals shape their genomes.