The project A2 of the LIMTECH Alliance aimed at a better understanding of those magnetohydrodynamic instabilities that are relevant for the generation and the action of cosmic magnetic fields. These comprise the hydromagnetic dynamo effect and various magnetically triggered flow instabilities, such as the magnetorotational instability and the Tayler instability. The project was intended to support the experimental capabilities to become available in the framework of the DREsden Sodium facility for DYNamo and thermohydraulic studies (DRESDYN). An associated starting grant was focused on the dimensioning of a liquid metal experiment on the newly found magnetic destabilization of rotating flows with positive shear. In this paper, the main results of these two projects are summarized.