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Climate of suspicion p269

With climate-change sceptics waiting to pounce on any scientific uncertainties, researchers need a sophisticated strategy for communication.


Ten years of synergy p269

Contributions to and from basic science are the part of synthetic biology that most deserves celebration.


Self-inflicted damage p270

The autocratic actions of an institute's founder could destroy a centre of excellence for brain research.



Research Highlights

Microbiology: Life in the lost city p272


Geophysics: Synthetic sky light p272


Chemistry: Chase acid, solve maze p272


Astrophysics: Dusty galaxy p272


Evolutionary biology: How girls go solo p272


Biochemistry: Designer label p272


Ecology: Asocial invaders p273


Geoscience: Blowin' in the wind p273


Evolutionary biology: Sperm signals p273


Neuropharmacology: Beating depression p273



Journal Club

Journal club p273

Mark J. Schnitzer




News briefing: 21 January 2010 p274

The week in science.


Glacier estimate is on thin ice p276

IPCC may modify its Himalayan melting forecasts.

Quirin Schiermeier


Geologists to evaluate future Haiti risks p276

Hunt for survey markers may reveal crucial data.

Rex Dalton


Genomics boosts brain-cancer work p278

Molecular findings start to open up avenues of diagnosis and treatment.

Erika Check Hayden


Iranian academics fear more killings p279

Concern grows in the wake of particle physicist's death.

Declan Butler


The scientific diplomat p281

AAAS president Peter Agre talks to Nature about his recent visits to Cuba and North Korea.

David Cyranoski


'Big science' spurs collaborative trend p282

Complicated projects mean that science is becoming more globalized.

Eric Hand


Bulgarian science reform attacked p283

Researchers say law wouldn't fix nation's higher-education system.

Alison Abbott



News Features

Climate: The real holes in climate science p284

Like any other field, research on climate change has some fundamental gaps, although not the ones typically claimed by sceptics. Quirin Schiermeier takes a hard look at some of the biggest problem areas.


Bioengineering: Five hard truths for synthetic biology p288

Can engineering approaches tame the complexity of living systems? Roberta Kwok explores five challenges for the field and how they might be resolved.




World view: Wild goose chase p291

Quantitative research assessment is a bad idea whose time has come, argues Colin Macilwain.

Colin Macilwain




Advocacy for carbon capture and storage could arouse distrust p293

Heleen de Coninck


Activists should be consulted in animal testing decisions p293

Fern Wickson


Conservation work is incomplete without cryptic biodiversity p293

Genoveva F. Esteban & Bland J. Finlay


Geothermal energy stuck between a rock and a hot place p293

Shaopeng Huang & Jiaqi Liu


Correction p293




A route to more tractable expert advice p294

There are mathematically advanced ways to weigh and pool scientific advice. They should be used more to quantify uncertainty and improve decision-making, says Willy Aspinall.

Willy Aspinall


Fixing the communications failure p296

People's grasp of scientific debates can improve if communicators build on the fact that cultural values influence what and whom we believe, says Dan Kahan.

Dan Kahan



Books and Arts

Vision of a personal genomics future p298

The director of the US National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, calls for a revolution in personalized medicine. Such advances should be shared beyond the developed world, says Abdallah S. Daar.

Abdallah S. Daar reviews The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine by Francis S. Collins


The bootleggers' legacy p299

Laura Spinney reviews The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum


Turin's criminology museum p300

Alison Abbott reviews Museum of Criminal Anthropology 'Cesare Lombroso'


Culture dish: Doom-laden Sundance p300

Jascha Hoffman



News and Views

Synthetic biology: Synchronized bacterial clocks p301

By synchronizing clocks, humans make more efficient use of their time and orchestrate their activities in different places. Bacteria have now been engineered that similarly coordinate their molecular timepieces.

Martin Fussenegger


See also: Editor's summary

Materials science: Membrane magic p302

The use of magnetic fields to assemble particles into membranes provides a powerful tool for exploring the physics of self-assembly and a practical method for synthesizing functional materials.

Jack F. Douglas


Genetics: Decoding a national treasure p303

The giant-panda genome is the first reported de novo assembly of a large mammalian genome achieved using next-generation sequencing methods. The feat reflects a trend towards ever-decreasing genome-sequencing costs.

Kim C. Worley & Richard A. Gibbs


See also: Editor's summary

Asteroids: Stripped on passing by Earth p305

Asteroids are weakly bound piles of rubble, and if one comes close to Earth, tides can cause the object to undergo landslides and structural rearrangement. The outcome of this encounter is a body with meteorite-like colours.

Clark R. Chapman


See also: Editor's summary

Evolutionary biology: New take on the Red Queen p306

Biologists have assumed that natural selection shapes larger patterns of evolution through interactions such as competition and predation. These patterns may instead be determined by rare, stochastic speciation.

Michael J. Benton


See also: Editor's summary

Atmospheric chemistry: More ozone over North America p307

Springtime ozone levels in the lower atmosphere over western North America are rising. The source of this pollution may be Asia, a finding that reaffirms the need for international air-quality control.

Kathy Law


See also: Editor's summary

Cell biology: How cilia beat p308

Physics provides new approaches to difficult biological problems: a plausible mathematical model of how cilia and flagella beat has been formulated, but it needs to be subjected to rigorous experimental tests.

T. J. Mitchison & H. M. Mitchison


Correction p309



Brief Communications Arising

Essentiality of FASII pathway for Staphylococcus aureus pE3

Wendy Balemans, Nacer Lounis, Ron Gilissen, Jerome Guillemont, Kenny Simmen, Koen Andries & Anil Koul


Brinster et al. reply pE4

Sophie Brinster, Gilles Lamberet, Bart Staels, Patrick Trieu-Cuot, Alexandra Gruss & Claire Poyart




The sequence and de novo assembly of the giant panda genome p311

Here, a draft sequence of the giant panda genome is assembled using next-generation sequencing technology alone. Genome analysis reveals a low divergence rate in comparison with dog and human genomes and insights into panda-specific traits; for example, the giant panda's bamboo diet may be more dependent on its gut microbiome than its own genetic composition.

Ruiqiang Li, Wei Fan, Geng Tian, Hongmei Zhu, Lin He, Jing Cai, Quanfei Huang, Qingle Cai, Bo Li, Yinqi Bai, Zhihe Zhang, Yaping Zhang, Wen Wang, Jun Li, Fuwen Wei, Heng Li, Min Jian, Jianwen Li, Zhaolei Zhang, Rasmus Nielsen, Dawei Li, Wanjun Gu, Zhentao Yang, Zhaoling Xuan, Oliver A. Ryder, Frederick Chi-Ching Leung, Yan Zhou, Jianjun Cao, Xiao Sun, Yonggui Fu, Xiaodong Fang, Xiaosen Guo, Bo Wang, Rong Hou, Fujun Shen, Bo Mu, Peixiang Ni, Runmao Lin, Wubin Qian, Guodong Wang, Chang Yu, Wenhui Nie, Jinhuan Wang, Zhigang Wu, Huiqing Liang, Jiumeng Min, Qi Wu, Shifeng Cheng, Jue Ruan, Mingwei Wang, Zhongbin Shi, Ming Wen, Binghang Liu, Xiaoli Ren, Huisong Zheng, Dong Dong, Kathleen Cook, Gao Shan, Hao Zhang, Carolin Kosiol, Xueying Xie, Zuhong Lu, Hancheng Zheng, Yingrui Li, Cynthia C. Steiner, Tommy Tsan-Yuk Lam, Siyuan Lin, Qinghui Zhang, Guoqing Li, Jing Tian, Timing Gong, Hongde Liu, Dejin Zhang, Lin Fang, Chen Ye, Juanbin Zhang, Wenbo Hu, Anlong Xu, Yuanyuan Ren, Guojie Zhang, Michael W. Bruford, Qibin Li, Lijia Ma, Yiran Guo, Na An, Yujie Hu, Yang Zheng, Yongyong Shi, Zhiqiang Li, Qing Liu, Yanling Chen, Jing Zhao, Ning Qu, Shancen Zhao, Feng Tian, Xiaoling Wang, Haiyin Wang, Lizhi Xu, Xiao Liu, Tomas Vinar, Yajun Wang, Tak-Wah Lam, Siu-Ming Yiu, Shiping Liu, Hemin Zhang, Desheng Li, Yan Huang, Xia Wang, Guohua Yang, Zhi Jiang, Junyi Wang, Nan Qin, Li Li, Jingxiang Li, Lars Bolund, Karsten Kristiansen, Gane Ka-Shu Wong, Maynard Olson, Xiuqing Zhang, Songgang Li, Huanming Yang, Jian Wang & Jun Wang


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Worley & Gibbs

The transcriptional network for mesenchymal transformation of brain tumours p318

A mesenchymal phenotype is the hallmark of tumour aggressiveness in human malignant glioma, but the regulatory programs responsible for implementing the associated molecular signature are largely unknown. Reverse-engineering and an unbiased interrogation of a glioma-specific regulatory network now reveal the transcription factors that activate expression of mesenchymal genes in malignant glioma.

Maria Stella Carro, Wei Keat Lim, Mariano Javier Alvarez, Robert J. Bollo, Xudong Zhao, Evan Y. Snyder, Erik P. Sulman, Sandrine L. Anne, Fiona Doetsch, Howard Colman, Anna Lasorella, Ken Aldape, Andrea Califano & Antonio Iavarone


See also: Editor's summary

A synchronized quorum of genetic clocks p326

A defining focus of synthetic biology is the engineering of genetic circuits with predictive functionality in living cells. Here, a decade after the first synthesized genetic toggle switch and oscillator, an engineered gene network with global intercellular coupling is designed that is capable of generating synchronized oscillations in a growing population of cells.

Tal Danino, Octavio Mondragón-Palomino, Lev Tsimring & Jeff Hasty


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



Earth encounters as the origin of fresh surfaces on near-Earth asteroids p331

Telescopic measurements of asteroids' colours rarely match laboratory reflectance spectra of meteorites owing to a 'space weathering' process that rapidly reddens asteroid surfaces. 'Unweathered' asteroids, however, with spectra matching ordinary chondrite meteorites, are seen only among small bodies with orbits that cross inside the orbits of Mars and Earth. Such unweathered asteroids are now shown to have experienced orbital intersections closer than the Earth–Moon distance within the past half-million years.

Richard P. Binzel, Alessandro Morbidelli, Sihane Merouane, Francesca E. DeMeo, Mirel Birlan, Pierre Vernazza, Cristina A. Thomas, Andrew S. Rivkin, Schelte J. Bus & Alan T. Tokunaga


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

Strong crystal size effect on deformation twinning p335

Although deformation twinning in crystals controls the mechanical behaviour of many materials, its size-dependence has not been explored. Using micro-compression and in situ nano-compression experiments, the stress required for deformation twinning is now found to increase drastically with decreasing sample size of a titanium alloy single crystal, until the sample size is reduced to one micrometre; below this point, deformation twinning is replaced by dislocation plasticity.

Qian Yu, Zhi-Wei Shan, Ju Li, Xiaoxu Huang, Lin Xiao, Jun Sun & Evan Ma


See also: Editor's summary

High-water-content mouldable hydrogels by mixing clay and a dendritic molecular binder p339

In the search to reduce our dependency on fossil-fuel energy, new plastic materials that are less dependent on petroleum are being developed, with water-based gels — hydrogels — representing one possible solution. Here, a mixture of water, 3% clay and a tiny amount of a special organic binder is shown to form a transparent hydrogel that can be moulded into shape-persistent, free-standing objects and that rapidly and completely self-heals when damaged.

Qigang Wang, Justin L. Mynar, Masaru Yoshida, Eunji Lee, Myongsoo Lee, Kou Okuro, Kazushi Kinbara & Takuzo Aida


See also: Editor's summary

Increasing springtime ozone mixing ratios in the free troposphere over western North America p344

High concentrations of ozone in the troposphere are toxic and act as a greenhouse gas. Anthropogenic emissions of ozone precursors have caused widespread increases in ozone concentrations since the late 1800s, with the fastest-growing ozone precursor emissions currently coming out of east Asia. Much of the springtime east Asian pollution is exported towards western North America; a strong increase in springtime ozone mixing ratios is now found in the free troposphere over this region.

O. R. Cooper, D. D. Parrish, A. Stohl, M. Trainer, P. Nédélec, V. Thouret, J. P. Cammas, S. J. Oltmans, B. J. Johnson, D. Tarasick, T. Leblanc, I. S. McDermid, D. Jaffe, R. Gao, J. Stith, T. Ryerson, K. Aikin, T. Campos, A. Weinheimer & M. A. Avery


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

Phylogenies reveal new interpretation of speciation and the Red Queen p349

The Red Queen metaphor has species accumulating small changes to keep up with a continually changing environment, with speciation occurring at a constant rate. This constant-rate claim is now tested against four competing models, using 101 phylogenies of animal, plant and fungal taxa. The results provide a new interpretation of the Red Queen; a view linking speciation to rare stochastic events that cause reproductive isolation.

Chris Venditti, Andrew Meade & Mark Pagel


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

Mutational robustness can facilitate adaptation p353

If robustness is the opposite of evolvability, we might expect that a robust population would have difficulty adapting to environmental change; however, some studies have suggested that genetic robustness facilitates adaptation. Here, using a general population genetics model, mutational robustness is found to either impede or facilitate adaptation depending on the population size, the mutation rate and the structure of the fitness landscape.

Jeremy A. Draghi, Todd L. Parsons, Günter P. Wagner & Joshua B. Plotkin


See also: Editor's summary

Prejudice and truth about the effect of testosterone on human bargaining behaviour p356

Evidence from animal studies shows that testosterone can induce aggressive behaviour, but whether this extrapolates to humans is an area of debate. The sublingual administration of a single dose of testosterone in women is now shown to cause a substantial increase in fair bargaining behaviour, although subjects who believed they received testosterone behaved much more unfairly than those who thought they received a placebo.

C. Eisenegger, M. Naef, R. Snozzi, M. Heinrichs & E. Fehr


See also: Editor's summary

Systematic sequencing of renal carcinoma reveals inactivation of histone modifying genes p360

Clear cell renal carcinoma, the most common form of adult kidney cancer, is often characterized by the presence of inactivating mutations in the VHL gene. A large survey for somatic mutations now identifies inactivating mutations in two genes encoding enzymes involved in histone modification, highlighting the role of mutations in components of the chromatin modification machinery in human cancer.

Gillian L. Dalgliesh, Kyle Furge, Chris Greenman, Lina Chen, Graham Bignell, Adam Butler, Helen Davies, Sarah Edkins, Claire Hardy, Calli Latimer, Jon Teague, Jenny Andrews, Syd Barthorpe, Dave Beare, Gemma Buck, Peter J. Campbell, Simon Forbes, Mingming Jia, David Jones, Henry Knott, Chai Yin Kok, King Wai Lau, Catherine Leroy, Meng-Lay Lin, David J. McBride, Mark Maddison, Simon Maguire, Kirsten McLay, Andrew Menzies, Tatiana Mironenko, Lee Mulderrig, Laura Mudie, Sarah O’Meara, Erin Pleasance, Arjunan Rajasingham, Rebecca Shepherd, Raffaella Smith, Lucy Stebbings, Philip Stephens, Gurpreet Tang, Patrick S. Tarpey, Kelly Turrell, Karl J. Dykema, Sok Kean Khoo, David Petillo, Bill Wondergem, John Anema, Richard J. Kahnoski, Bin Tean Teh, Michael R. Stratton & P. Andrew Futreal


See also: Editor's summary

HnRNP proteins controlled by c-Myc deregulate pyruvate kinase mRNA splicing in cancer p364

Expression of the embryonic M2 isoform of pyruvate kinase (PKM2) by tumour cells promotes aerobic glycolysis, whereas the normal adult isoform, PKM1, promotes oxidative phosphorylation. Expression of these isoforms is regulated by alternative splicing; here, aberrant expression of three heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein splicing factors, which are themselves regulated by the c-Myc oncogene, is shown to be responsible for the M1 to M2 switch in cancer.

Charles J. David, Mo Chen, Marcela Assanah, Peter Canoll & James L. Manley


See also: Editor's summary

FOXO-dependent regulation of innate immune homeostasis p369

Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are an important class of immune effector molecules which fight pathogen infections. AMP induction in Drosophila is regulated through the activation of the Toll and immune deficiency pathways; it is now shown that AMP activation can be achieved independently of these pathways by the transcription factor FOXO. In non-infected animals, AMP genes are activated in response to nuclear FOXO activity when induced by starvation.

Thomas Becker, Gerrit Loch, Marc Beyer, Ingo Zinke, Anna C. Aschenbrenner, Pilar Carrera, Therese Inhester, Joachim L. Schultze & Michael Hoch


See also: Editor's summary

Transcriptional role of cyclin D1 in development revealed by a genetic–proteomic screen p374

Although cyclin D1 is frequently overexpressed in human cancers, the full range of its functions in normal development and oncogenesis is unclear. Here, tagged cyclin D1 knock-in mouse strains are developed to allow a search for cyclin D1-binding proteins in different mouse organs using high-throughput mass spectrometry. The results show that, in addition to its established cell cycle roles, cyclin D1 has an in vivo transcriptional function in mouse development.

Frédéric Bienvenu, Siwanon Jirawatnotai, Joshua E. Elias, Clifford A. Meyer, Karolina Mizeracka, Alexander Marson, Garrett M. Frampton, Megan F. Cole, Duncan T. Odom, Junko Odajima, Yan Geng, Agnieszka Zagozdzon, Marie Jecrois, Richard A. Young, X. Shirley Liu, Constance L. Cepko, Steven P. Gygi & Piotr Sicinski


See also: Editor's summary

Mechanism of folding chamber closure in a group II chaperonin p379

Group II chaperonins are present in eukaryotes and archaea and are essential mediators of cellular protein folding. This process is critically dependent on the closure of a built-in lid, which is triggered by ATP hydrolysis, but the structural rearrangements and molecular events leading to lid closure are unknown. Using cryo-electron microscopy, the structures of an archaeal group II chaperonin in the open and closed states are now reported, providing details of this mechanism.

Junjie Zhang, Matthew L. Baker, Gunnar F. Schröder, Nicholai R. Douglas, Stefanie Reissmann, Joanita Jakana, Matthew Dougherty, Caroline J. Fu, Michael Levitt, Steven J. Ludtke, Judith Frydman & Wah Chiu


See also: Editor's summary



Direct inhibition of the NOTCH transcription factor complex p384

Raymond E. Moellering, Melanie Cornejo, Tina N. Davis, Cristina Del Bianco, Jon C. Aster, Stephen C. Blacklow, Andrew L. Kung, D. Gary Gilliland, Gregory L. Verdine & James E. Bradner


Thickness and Clapeyron slope of the post-perovskite boundary p384

Krystle Catalli, Sang-Heon Shim & Vitali Prakapenka




Cyclical DNA methylation of a transcriptionally active promoter p384

Raphaël Métivier, Rozenn Gallais, Christophe Tiffoche, Christine Le Péron, Renata Z. Jurkowska, Richard P. Carmouche, David Ibberson, Peter Barath, Florence Demay, George Reid, Vladimir Benes, Albert Jeltsch, Frank Gannon & Gilles Salbert


FGF signalling during embryo development regulates cilia length in diverse epithelia p384

Judith M. Neugebauer, Jeffrey D. Amack, Annita G. Peterson, Brent W. Bisgrove & H. Joseph Yost




Careers Q&A

Jon Gluyas p387

Jon Gluyas of Durham University, UK, is the country's first professor of carbon capture and storage and geoenergy.

Virginia Gewin


In Brief

Charles River downsizes p387

Downturn forces closure of Charles River Labs division.


Small rise for US postdocs p387

NIH stipend increase not enough, says US National Postdoctoral Association.


Biotech ends on a high p387

Biotech firms raise much more money in 2009, buoyed by big pharma partnerships


Careers and Recruitment

Tricky terrains p388

The drug and biotech industries are not always easy to break into. Developing a diverse skill set could be the key to success, Karen Kaplan reports.

Karen Kaplan




Strange machine p392

A fair exchange?

Taik Hobson


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