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Politics proves its worth p139

The European Parliament has reaffirmed its legislative value by reversing the potentially disruptive restrictions in the draft directive for protecting laboratory animals.


Bracing for the unknown p139

Last year's earthquake in China is a salutary reminder about preparing for risk in the face of uncertainty.


A measure of marine life p140

The extraordinary emerging images of ocean microbiology need the fourth dimension of time.



Research Highlights

Migration: The long bask p142


Ecology: Bouillabaisse p142


Astronomy: Strange star p142


Quantum physics: Atomic painting p142


Geosciences: The forever landscape p142


Imaging: Seeing beyond skin deep p142


Materials: Everlasting memory p143


Polymer chemistry: Doughnut machine p143


Microbiology: On the surface p143


Conservation: Amphibian additions p143



Journal Club

Journal club p143

Lee Turnpenny




Vaccine decisions loom for new flu strain p144

World Health Organization considers live attenuated vaccines for swine-associated H1N1 outbreak.

Declan Butler


Stem-cell therapy faces more scrutiny in China p146

But regulations remain unclear for companies that supply treatments.

David Cyranoski


Exome sequencing takes centre stage in cancer profiling p146

Researchers question focus on coding regions.

Brendan Maher


Deep concerns p148

The United States' flagship underground laboratory is running into challenges over its relations with local Native Americans. Rex Dalton reports.

Rex Dalton


Austria quits CERN after 50 years p151

Physicists stunned by by government's plans.

Geoff Brumfiel


Social scientists join synthetic-biology centre p152


South Africa's cabinet a mixed bag for science p152


University fined after safety-failure lab death p152


Human space-flight review in US budget proposals p152


Japan to pay firms to relieve postdoc glut p152


Quiet Sun enters new sunspot cycle p152



News Features

Seismology: The sleeping dragon p153

The great Sichuan earthquake of 12 May 2008 caught Earth scientists off guard. A year on, Alexandra Witze reports from the shattered towns on how researchers have learned from their failures.


Microbiology: Tinker, bacteria, eukaryote, spy p159

Bacteria and their hosts may reside in different kingdoms, but that doesn't stop them from intercepting each other's communications. Asher Mullard reports.




Leading the tributes to editor John Maddox p163

David Davies


Water: conflicts set to arise within as well as between states p163

Ismail Serageldin


Water: resistance on the route towards a fair share for all p163

Mark Zeitoun




Is free will an illusion? p164

Scientists and philosophers are using new discoveries in neuroscience to question the idea of free will. They are misguided, says Martin Heisenberg. Examining animal behaviour shows how our actions can be free.

Martin Heisenberg



Books and Arts

The otherness of the oceans p166

As scientists discover more about the genomes of marine microorganisms, new views of their physiology and ecosystem networks are opening up, explain Alexandra Z. Worden and Darcy McRose.

Alexandra Z. Worden & Darcy McRose


Ecology lost and found p167

Jon Christensen reviews Paradise Found: Nature in America at the Time of Discovery by Steve Nicholls


The dangers of denying HIV p168

John P. Moore reviews Denying AIDS: Conspiracy Theories, Pseudoscience, and Human Tragedy by Seth Kalichman


Q&A: Origami unfolded p169

In her documentary Between the Folds, film director Vanessa Gould explores the expression of mathematics through origami. She tells Nature how she became captivated by the art and science of transforming sheets of paper into three-dimensional geometric shapes — and exposed a hidden subculture.

Roxanne Khamsi


Art tied up p169

Colin Martin reviews Ravelling, Unravelling



News and Views

Origins of life: Systems chemistry on early Earth p171

Understanding how life emerged on Earth is one of the greatest challenges facing modern chemistry. A new way of looking at the synthesis of RNA sidesteps a thorny problem in the field.

Jack W. Szostak


See also: Editor's summary

Molecular microbiology: A key event in survival p172

The parasitic microorganism Trypanosoma brucei evades recognition by its host's immune system by repeatedly changing its surface coat. The switch in coat follows a risky route, though: DNA break and repair.

Dave Barry & Richard McCulloch


See also: Editor's summary

Astrophysics: Cosmic crystals caught in the act p173

The outburst of a Sun-like star offers a rare opportunity to witness the making of silicate crystals in the star's planet-forming disk, providing key information about the formation of comets and the Solar System.

Aigen Li


See also: Editor's summary

Microbiology: Signals for change p175

Sadaf Shadan


See also: Editor's summary

Archaeology: Origins of the female image p176

Discovery of the sexually explicit figurine of a woman, dating to 35,000 years ago, provides striking evidence of the symbolic explosion that occurred in the earliest populations of Homo sapiens in Europe.

Paul Mellars


See also: Editor's summary

50 & 100 years ago p177



Insight: Microbial oceanography

Insight: Microbial oceanography

Microbial oceanography p179

Claudia Lupp


Microbial oceanography in a sea of opportunity p180

Chris Bowler, David M. Karl & Rita R. Colwell


The life of diatoms in the world's oceans p185

E. Virginia Armbrust


Microbial community structure and its functional implications p193

Jed A. Fuhrman


The microbial ocean from genomes to biomes p200

Edward F. DeLong


Viruses manipulate the marine environment p207

Forest Rohwer & Rebecca Vega Thurber




A surface transporter family conveys the trypanosome differentiation signal p213

The differentiation of the parasite Trypanosoma brucei, the cause of sleeping sickness, from the human blood to the tsetse fly stage is known to require two signals – low temperature and citrate and/or cis-aconitate – but how these signals were perceived was unknown. The trypanosome carboxylate-transporter family PAD is now revealed to be essential in this process.

Samuel Dean, Rosa Marchetti, Kiaran Kirk & Keith R. Matthews


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Shadan

Select Drosophila glomeruli mediate innate olfactory attraction and aversion p218

Individual odorant molecules have been shown to activate several distinct classes of olfactory neurons at once, suggesting a combinatorial code. Using a new behavioural assay and cutting-edge genetic control of specific neurons in the fruitfly, attraction to low concentrations of vinegar is now shown to rely exclusively on one or two of the six activated neuronal centres.

Julia L. Semmelhack & Jing W. Wang


See also: Editor's summary



Episodic formation of cometary material in the outburst of a young Sun-like star p224

Our Solar System originated in a cloud of interstellar gas and amorphous dust, but cometary dust is mainly crystalline—and it is not clear how this crystallization occurred. The outburst spectrum of the young solar-like star EX Lupi shows mid-infrared features, attributed to crystalline forsterite, that were not present in quiescence, suggesting that crystals were produced via thermal annealing by heat from the outburst. This represents a new mechanism of crystal formation in protoplanetary disks.

P. Ábrahám, A. Juhász, C. P. Dullemond, Á. Kóspál, R. van Boekel, J. Bouwman, Th. Henning, A. Moór, L. Mosoni, A. Sicilia-Aguilar & N. Sipos


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Li

Radiation-pressure mixing of large dust grains in protoplanetary disks p227

Dusty disks around young stars are formed out of interstellar dust that consists of amorphous submicrometre grains. Yet the grains found in comets, meteorites and traced in the spectra of young stars include big crystalline grains in environments considered too cold for crystallinity to occur. Here it is shown that infrared light arising from the dusty disk can loft grains bigger than one micrometre out of the hot inner disk, whereupon they are pushed outwards by stellar radiation pressure.

Dejan Vinkovic acute


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Li

Thermal vestige of the zero-temperature jamming transition p230

When the packing fraction is increased sufficiently, loose particulates jam together to form a rigid solid in which the constituents are no longer free to move. Although in typical granular materials and foams the thermal energy is too small to produce structural rearrangements, thermal motion becomes relevant when the particles are small enough. Here, colloidal experiments and computer simulations are used to investigate the overlap distance between neighbouring particles beyond the zero-temperature limit, revealing some surprising behaviour.

Zexin Zhang, Ning Xu, Daniel T. N. Chen, Peter Yunker, Ahmed M. Alsayed, Kevin B. Aptowicz, Piotr Habdas, Andrea J. Liu, Sidney R. Nagel & Arjun G. Yodh


See also: Editor's summary

White organic light-emitting diodes with fluorescent tube efficiency p234

Light-emitting diodes based on organic materials (known as OLEDs) have a number of attractive qualities that could make them the light sources of choice for the future. Unfortunately until now they have never reached the power efficiencies of fluorescent tubes. Here, the engineering of white OLEDs with power efficiencies at least as high as that of standard fluorescent tubes brings the future a little closer.

Sebastian Reineke, Frank Lindner, Gregor Schwartz, Nico Seidler, Karsten Walzer, Björn Lüssem & Karl Leo


See also: Editor's summary

Synthesis of activated pyrimidine ribonucleotides in prebiotically plausible conditions p239

At some stage in the origin of life, an information-carrying polymer must have formed by purely chemical means. That polymer might have been RNA, but until now this theory has been hampered by a lack of evidence for a plausible route in which the ribonucleotides could have formed on prebiotic Earth. Here, just such a route is reported.

Matthew W. Powner, Béatrice Gerland & John D. Sutherland


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Szostak

Interior pathways of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation p243

Labrador Sea Water (LSW) is an important determinant of the strength of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and thus of the main oceanic mechanism of energy redistribution. By using a combination of neutral buoyancy floats and modelling 'e-floats', the dominant pathway of export of LSW into the North Atlantic is shown to be via internal pathways rather than the Deep Western Boundary Current, as previously thought.

Amy S. Bower, M. Susan Lozier, Stefan F. Gary & Claus W. Böning


See also: Editor's summary

A female figurine from the basal Aurignacian of Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany p248

The 'Venus of Hohle Fels', discovered in a cave in southern Germany, may be the oldest-known example of figurative art. The mammoth-ivory carving of a woman with grotesquely exaggerated sexual features is at least 35,000 years old, and may be 5,000 years older than the next-oldest example of so-called 'Venus' figurines.

Nicholas J. Conard


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Mellars

Snowdrift game dynamics and facultative cheating in yeast p253

Yeast secrete invertase to break down sucrose into monosaccharides that they can metabolize. However, 99% of the monosaccharides diffuse away where they can be used by other yeast cells, making this a cooperative behaviour that is susceptible to cheating by cells that do not secrete invertase. Here this is shown to be a snowdrift game, in which cheating can be profitable, but is not necessarily the best strategy if others are cheating too.

Jeff Gore, Hyun Youk & Alexander van Oudenaarden


See also: Editor's summary

Two-year-olds with autism orient to non-social contingencies rather than biological motion p257

Human infants preferentially look at motions that make sense biologically as opposed to non-biological movements within the first days of life, an ability which is seen as a precursor for attributing intentions to others. Here it is shown that two-year-olds with autism fail to look towards point-light displays of biological motion but are attracted by other properties ignored by control children, a behavioural difference which may reflect changes in the functioning of autistic brains.

Ami Klin, David J. Lin, Phillip Gorrindo, Gordon Ramsay & Warren Jones


See also: Editor's summary

Single Lgr5 stem cells build crypt–villus structures in vitro without a mesenchymal niche p262

Lrg5+ is a protein which has been shown to mark cycling stem cells that renew the tissue of the intestine. Here, Lrg5+ stem cells were used in the establishment of long-term culture conditions capable of generating organoids with all the cell types and architecture of intestinal crypts present in adult mammals.

Toshiro Sato, Robert G. Vries, Hugo J. Snippert, Marc van de Wetering, Nick Barker, Daniel E. Stange, Johan H. van Es, Arie Abo, Pekka Kujala, Peter J. Peters & Hans Clevers


See also: Editor's summary

Metatranscriptomics reveals unique microbial small RNAs in the ocean's water column p266

Microbial gene expression in the environment has recently been assessed via pyrosequencing of total RNA extracted directly from natural, uncultured microbial communities. This technique, known as metatranscriptomics, is used to show that a significant fraction of transcripts extracted from an oceanic sample are small RNAs.

Yanmei Shi, Gene W. Tyson & Edward F. DeLong


See also: Editor's summary

Discovery of dual function acridones as a new antimalarial chemotype p270

Malaria drug development remains an important public health goal, especially in light of the emergence of drug resistance. Here a new class of malaria drugs is presented: an acridone derivative containing a chemosensitizing domain that may prevent the occurrence of parasite drug resistance.

Jane X. Kelly, Martin J. Smilkstein, Reto Brun, Sergio Wittlin, Roland A. Cooper, Kristin D. Lane, Aaron Janowsky, Robert A. Johnson, Rozalia A. Dodean, Rolf Winter, David J. Hinrichs & Michael K. Riscoe


See also: Editor's summary

qiRNA is a new type of small interfering RNA induced by DNA damage p274

High-throughput sequencing has highlighted a vast reservoir of small non-coding RNAs, the function of which, for the most part, remains to be determined. Here a new class of small RNAs, termed qiRNAs, is identified from the fungus Neurospora. The production of qiRNAs is dependent on DNA damage, and it is proposed that they may have a role in the DNA damage response.

Heng-Chi Lee, Shwu-Shin Chang, Swati Choudhary, Antti P. Aalto, Mekhala Maiti, Dennis H. Bamford & Yi Liu


See also: Editor's summary

A yeast-endonuclease-generated DNA break induces antigenic switching in Trypanosoma brucei p278

Sleeping sickness is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma brucei. This parasite outwits the human immune system by periodically changing its coat protein in a process known as VSG switching. Here, the first in vitro system that recapitulates VSG switching is established, indicating that a spontaneous double-stranded DNA break upstream of the gene encoding the code protein initiates the process.

Catharine E. Boothroyd, Oliver Dreesen, Tatyana Leonova, K. Ina Ly, Luisa M. Figueiredo, George A. M. Cross & F. Nina Papavasiliou


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Barry & McCulloch




Expanding energy frontiers p285

New US energy research centres will create 1,100 new posts for postdocs, graduate students and technicians.

Virginia Gewin


Postdoc journal

A Cajun-style meeting p285

Could attending an annual meeting help me decide on academia versus industry?

Bryan Venters


In Brief

High cost, high reward p285

US legislators aim to boost number of federally supported teaching-hospital posts.


FASEB on Facebook p285

US biomedical research coalition launches pages on Facebook and Twitter.


ZymoGenetics cuts back p285

Biotech axes 129 R&D jobs to focus on immunology research.



Ahead of the pack p286

The Boston-area biotechnology cluster is one of the most successful on the planet. But competition is growing from other states and countries. Heidi Ledford reports on what the region is doing to maintain its edge.

Heidi Ledford




The chair p290

A Friend for life.

Madeline Ashby


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