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Wanted: an IPCC for biodiversity p525

An independent, international science panel would coordinate and highlight research on a pressing topic.


Education ambivalence p525

Academic scientists value teaching as much as research — but universities apparently don't.


Mouse megascience p526

Mouse research for human diseases has grown, and researchers must defend and promote it accordingly.



Research Highlights

Geophysics: Glaciers going, going... p528


Astronomy: Clouds with an H2 lining p528


Ecology: What's that whale? p528


Nanomanufacturing: Petite pottery p528


Physiology: Marathon metabolites p528


Genomics: Transposition trends p528


Nanoscience: Shifted shells p529


Geoscience: Dam that water p529


Ecology: Mighty termite mounds p529


Neuroscience: Sound learning p529



Journal Club

Journal club p529

Petr Svoboda




News briefing: 3 June 2010 p530

The week in science


Financial meltdown imperils reactor p532

Faced with a huge budget shortfall, Europe rethinks future of ITER fusion project.

Geoff Brumfiel


Researchers track path of oil from rig spill p532

Officials desperately seek answers on where the slick will head.

Mark Schrope & Janet Fang


Model stars set to explode p534

Realistic computational models of supernovae might soon solve a long-standing mystery.

Eric Hand


US prepares for climate burden p535

National summit paves way for concerted action on global warming.

Jeff Tollefson


Biologists tackle cells' identity crisis p537

DNA fingerprinting scheme aims to make sure researchers are working on the right cells.

Alla Katsnelson


Acupuncture for mice p538

Study hints at biological mechanism for alternative therapy.

Daniel Cressey



News Features

Fisheries: What's the catch? p540

New England fishermen have mixed feelings about a programme designed to allow overfished species to recover. Mark Schrope reports on how catch shares have scientists fishing for answers.


Volcanology: Out of the ashes p544

The Icelandic eruption has given researchers the opportunity of a lifetime. Katharine Sanderson talks to scientists working around the clock to study the volcano and its effects.




World view: Defending democracy p546

Government surveillance technology programmes must aim to protect privacy and civil rights from the start, says Daniel Sarewitz.

Daniel Sarewitz




Budget cuts: funding needed for startling new discoveries too p547

Daniel M. Davis


Budget cuts: leaven the curriculum with a pinch of research p547

Peter A. Bednekoff


Budget cuts: company investment could help offset the shortfall p547

Gautam Sen


Protection needed for international species collections p547

Eduardo Bessa


Environment groups are not to blame for public complacency p547

Kevin Matthews




Strategic body needed to beat food crises p548

The system that oversees global agriculture and food security needs an overhaul, says Joachim von Braun.

Joachim von Braun



Books and Arts

Empowerment is key p550

A plan to pull millions out of poverty while addressing climate change fails to acknowledge the importance of dispersing power to the people, explains Iqbal Quadir.

Iqbal Quadir reviews The Plundered Planet: Why We Must — and How We Can — Manage Nature for Global Prosperity by Paul Collier


Excavating the puzzle of the Paris zodiac p551

Andrew Robinson reviews The Zodiac of Paris: How an Improbable Controversy over an Ancient Egyptian Artifact Provoked a Modern Debate Between Religion and Science by Jed Z. Buchwald & Diane Greco Josefowicz


More lab in the library p552

Jennifer Rohn, editor of the webzine, asks why so many novels with scientists as central characters have been published this year.

Jennifer Rohn



News and Views

Condensed-matter physics: The emergent and hidden unveiled p553

The appearance of an unexplained electronic state in the uranium metal URu2Si2 at low temperatures has long puzzled condensed-matter physicists. The latest experiment on the material sheds light on the process.

Andrew J. Schofield


See also: Editor's summary | Article by Schmidt et al.

Apoptosis: Lack of oxygen aids cell survival p554

In worms, neurons respond to low levels of environmental oxygen in a way that protects distant tissues from stress-induced cell death. The molecules that mediate this cell-cell signalling may be targets for cancer treatment.

Jo Anne Powell-Coffman & Clark R. Coffman


See also: Editor's summary | Article by Sendoel et al.

Quantum physics: Frustrated trio mimicked p555

Quantum simulation is a promising tool for navigating the complex world of many-body physics. The technique has now been employed to simulate a frustrated network of three quantum magnets by using trapped ions.

Hartmut Häffner


See also: Editor's summary | Letter by Kim et al.

Cell biology: How to don a coat p556

Cargo-carrying vesicles can assemble from hundreds of locations on the cell membrane, but how these sites are selected has been unclear. A small family of membrane-sculpting proteins may select the perfect location.

Linton M. Traub & Beverly Wendland


Geoscience: Driving Earth's surface motions p559

Density variations within Earth's mantle may be a significant driver of both horizontal and vertical surface movements. The fingerprints of such mantle processes have been found in the Mediterranean region.

Rinus Wortel & Rob Govers


See also: Editor's summary | Letter by Faccenna & Becker

Astrophysics: Young stars in young galaxies p559

A fine marriage between galaxy data and theoretical simulations offers an explanation for two apparently conflicting sets of observations on the rate at which stars formed at early cosmic times.

Robert C. Kennicutt Jr


Organic chemistry: Symmetrizing the unsymmetrical p560

You might think that the partial symmetry of the molecule complanadine A makes it easy to prepare, but the reverse is true. Two syntheses of this compound offer insight into how to make partly symmetrical molecules.

Scott A. Snyder



Correction p561



Q&A: Cancer:  Clues from cell metabolism p562

Interest in the abnormal metabolism exhibited by cancer cells has been reawakened by the discovery of oncogenic mutations in metabolic enzymes, and by tools that monitor metabolism in living cells. Existing and emerging therapies aim to target this abnormal metabolism in various ways.

William G. Kaelin Jr & Craig B. Thompson




Nearby galaxies as pointers to a better theory of cosmic evolution p565

The relativistic Big Bang theory is a good description of our expanding Universe. But — as discussed in this review article — a still better theory would describe a mechanism by which matter is more rapidly gathered into galaxies and groups of galaxies, better fitting the observations.

P. J. E. Peebles & Adi Nusser


See also: Editor's summary



Imaging the Fano lattice to ‘hidden order’ transition in URu2Si2 p570

A longstanding mystery in condensed-matter physics involves the appearance of a 'hidden order' state in URu2Si2 at low temperature — an unexpected phase change that is accompanied by a sharp change in the bulk properties of the material. The problem is related to the appearance of a 'heavy fermion' state. Here, scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy have been used to image the electronic structure of URu2Si2 at sub-atomic resolution, revealing how the hidden order state evolves with decreasing temperature.

A. R. Schmidt, M. H. Hamidian, P. Wahl, F. Meier, A. V. Balatsky, J. D. Garrett, T. J. Williams, G. M. Luke & J. C. Davis


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

HIF-1 antagonizes p53-mediated apoptosis through a secreted neuronal tyrosinase p577

When oxygen levels drop in a tissue, the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) is activated to regulate the cellular response. HIFα levels are increased in most solid tumours and this correlates with a poor prognosis, for unknown reasons. Here it is shown that HIF-1, the worm version of HIFα, protects germ cells from DNA-damage-induced death. It does this remotely, by increasing the production of the TYR-2 protein in distant neurons. Inhibiting a human TYR-2 homologue promotes apoptosis in melanoma cells.

Ataman Sendoel, Ines Kohler, Christof Fellmann, Scott W. Lowe & Michael O. Hengartner


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Powell-Coffman & Coffman

A dicer-independent miRNA biogenesis pathway that requires Ago catalysis p584

MicroRNAs, which regulate gene expression, are transcribed as longer sequences that are processed to produce the mature form. Two nuclease enzymes, Drosha and Dicer, are known to act sequentially to trim the microRNA to size. Here, however, a subset of microRNAs that includes miR-451, important for erythropoiesis, is found to be processed independently of Dicer. Rather, the Argonaute protein — part of the complex that aligns microRNA and messenger RNA — carries out the secondary cleavage.

Sihem Cheloufi, Camila O. Dos Santos, Mark M. W. Chong & Gregory J. Hannon


See also: Editor's summary



Quantum simulation of frustrated Ising spins with trapped ions p590

A network is frustrated when competing interactions between nodes prevent each bond from being satisfied. Frustration in quantum networks can lead to massively entangled ground states, as occurs in exotic materials such as quantum spin liquids and spin glasses. Here, a quantum simulation of a frustrated spin system is described, in which there are three trapped atomic ions whose interactions are controlled using optical forces.

K. Kim, M.-S. Chang, S. Korenblit, R. Islam, E. E. Edwards, J. K. Freericks, G.-D. Lin, L.-M. Duan & C. Monroe


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

An entangled-light-emitting diode p594

A quantum computer based on optical processes requires a source of entangled photons that can be delivered efficiently on demand. Such a source has now been developed: it involves a compact light-emitting diode with an embedded quantum dot that can be driven electrically to generate entangled photon pairs.

C. L. Salter, R. M. Stevenson, I. Farrer, C. A. Nicoll, D. A. Ritchie & A. J. Shields


See also: Editor's summary

Ligand exchanges and selective catalytic hydrogenation in molecular single crystals p598

Chemical reactions at the interior of single crystals are likely to be highly selective, but examples of single crystal to single crystal (SC–SC) transformations are uncommon. Here, a series of SC–SC transformations are reported that involve the interchange of multiple small gaseous ligands at an iridium centre in molecular single crystals of a pincer Ir(I) complex. The single crystal remains intact during these ligand-exchange reactions, which occur within the crystal and do not require prior ligand extrusion.

Zheng Huang, Peter S. White & Maurice Brookhart


See also: Editor's summary

Shaping mobile belts by small-scale convection p602

Here, global mantle flow is computed on the basis of recent, high-resolution seismic tomography, to investigate the role of buoyancy-driven and plate-motion-induced mantle circulation in the Mediterranean region. The findings show that mantle flow explains much of the observed dynamic topography and microplate motion in the region. Small-scale convection in the uppermost mantle may also hold the key to understanding complex mobile belts elsewhere.

Claudio Faccenna & Thorsten W. Becker


See also: Editor's summary | News and Views by Wortel & Govers

The key nickel enzyme of methanogenesis catalyses the anaerobic oxidation of methane p606

Large amounts of methane are oxidized to carbon dioxide in marine sediments by communities of specific archaea and bacteria. Indirect evidence indicates that the anaerobic oxidation of methane might proceed as the reverse of archaeal methane production from carbon dioxide, with methyl-coenzyme M reductase (MCR) as the methane-activating enzyme. Here it is found that purified MCR from Methanothermobacter marburgensis can convert methane into methyl-coenzyme M, supporting the 'reverse methanogenesis' theory.

Silvan Scheller, Meike Goenrich, Reinhard Boecher, Rudolf K. Thauer & Bernhard Jaun


See also: Editor's summary

Population diversity and the portfolio effect in an exploited species p609

The value of having a diversity of species within an ecosystem is well appreciated: species-rich communities are thought to produce more stable ecosystem services. But population diversity within a species is important too. Here, the effects of diversity in population and life history in a heavily exploited Alaskan salmon species are quantified. The results show that population diversity increases the resilience of this ecosystem, and hence the value of salmon fisheries.

Daniel E. Schindler, Ray Hilborn, Brandon Chasco, Christopher P. Boatright, Thomas P. Quinn, Lauren A. Rogers & Michael S. Webster


See also: Editor's summary

Experimentally assessing the relative importance of predation and competition as agents of selection p613

What agents of selection shape creatures in the wild? The answer for the brown anole lizard seems to be competition with its fellows, rather than predation from without. Bird or snake predators were included or excluded across six Caribbean islands that ranged from low to high population densities of lizards. Although the presence of predators altered lizard behaviour, it was increases in lizard population density that altered the lizard's phenotype, favouring larger size, longer legs and increased stamina for running.

Ryan Calsbeek & Robert M. Cox


See also: Editor's summary

The Ectocarpus genome and the independent evolution of multicellularity in brown algae p617

The genome of Ectocarpus siliculosis, a model for the study of brown algae, has been sequenced. These seaweeds are complex photosynthetic organisms that have adapted to rocky coastal environments. Genome analysis sheds light on this adaptation, revealing an extended set of light-harvesting and pigment biosynthesis genes, and new metabolic processes such as halide metabolism. Comparative analyses are also significant with respect to the evolution of multicellularity in plants, animals and brown algae.

J. Mark Cock, Lieven Sterck, Pierre Rouzé, Delphine Scornet, Andrew E. Allen, Grigoris Amoutzias, Veronique Anthouard, François Artiguenave, Jean-Marc Aury, Jonathan H. Badger, Bank Beszteri, Kenny Billiau, Eric Bonnet, John H. Bothwell, Chris Bowler, Catherine Boyen, Colin Brownlee, Carl J. Carrano, Bénédicte Charrier, Ga Youn Cho, Susana M. Coelho, Jonas Collén, Erwan Corre, Corinne Da Silva, Ludovic Delage, Nicolas Delaroque, Simon M. Dittami, Sylvie Doulbeau, Marek Elias, Garry Farnham, Claire M. M. Gachon, Bernhard Gschloessl, Svenja Heesch, Kamel Jabbari, Claire Jubin, Hiroshi Kawai, Kei Kimura, Bernard Kloareg, Frithjof C. Küpper, Daniel Lang, Aude Le Bail, Catherine Leblanc, Patrice Lerouge, Martin Lohr, Pascal J. Lopez, Cindy Martens, Florian Maumus, Gurvan Michel, Diego Miranda-Saavedra, Julia Morales, Hervé Moreau, Taizo Motomura, Chikako Nagasato, Carolyn A. Napoli, David R. Nelson, Pi Nyvall-Collén, Akira F. Peters, Cyril Pommier, Philippe Potin, Julie Poulain, Hadi Quesneville, Betsy Read, Stefan A. Rensing, Andrés Ritter, Sylvie Rousvoal, Manoj Samanta, Gaelle Samson, Declan C. Schroeder, Béatrice Ségurens, Martina Strittmatter, Thierry Tonon, James W. Tregear, Klaus Valentin, Peter von Dassow, Takahiro Yamagishi, Yves Van de Peer & Patrick Wincker


See also: Editor's summary

The role of mentorship in protégé performance p622

Mentors influence the future success of their protégés, but to what extent do those protégés emulate their mentors? Here, one aspect of mentor emulation is studied, namely fecundity — the number of protégés a mentor trains. Analysis of data from the Mathematics Genealogy Project shows that although mentorship fecundity correlates with success, those mentors who maintain a small fecundity go on to train protégés with a larger fecundity. Moreover, the mentor's career stage influences the eventual fecundity of their protégés.

R. Dean Malmgren, Julio M. Ottino & Luís A. Nunes Amaral


See also: Editor's summary

Genome-wide association study of 107 phenotypes in Arabidopsis thaliana inbred lines p627

Here, large-scale genome-wide association studies were carried out with the naturally occurring inbred lines of Arabidopsis thaliana, which can be genotyped once and phenotyped repeatedly. The results range from significant associations, usually corresponding to single genes, to findings that are more difficult to interpret, because confounding by complex genetics and population structure makes it hard to distinguish true associations from false.

Susanna Atwell, Yu S. Huang, Bjarni J. Vilhjálmsson, Glenda Willems, Matthew Horton, Yan Li, Dazhe Meng, Alexander Platt, Aaron M. Tarone, Tina T. Hu, Rong Jiang, N. Wayan Muliyati, Xu Zhang, Muhammad Ali Amer, Ivan Baxter, Benjamin Brachi, Joanne Chory, Caroline Dean, Marilyne Debieu, Juliette de Meaux, Joseph R. Ecker, Nathalie Faure, Joel M. Kniskern, Jonathan D. G. Jones, Todd Michael, Adnane Nemri, Fabrice Roux, David E. Salt, Chunlao Tang, Marco Todesco, M. Brian Traw, Detlef Weigel, Paul Marjoram, Justin O. Borevitz, Joy Bergelson & Magnus Nordborg


See also: Editor's summary

Natural allelic variation underlying a major fitness trade-off in Arabidopsis thaliana p632

Here, a combination of forward genetics and genome-wide association analyses has been used to show that variation at a single genetic locus in Arabidopsis thaliana underlies phenotypic variation in vegetative growth as well as resistance to infection. The strong enhancement of resistance mediated by one of the alleles at this locus explains the allele's persistence in natural populations throughout the world, even though it drastically reduces the production of new leaves.

Marco Todesco, Sureshkumar Balasubramanian, Tina T. Hu, M. Brian Traw, Matthew Horton, Petra Epple, Christine Kuhns, Sridevi Sureshkumar, Christopher Schwartz, Christa Lanz, Roosa A. E. Laitinen, Yu Huang, Joanne Chory, Volker Lipka, Justin O. Borevitz, Jeffery L. Dangl, Joy Bergelson, Magnus Nordborg & Detlef Weigel


See also: Editor's summary

The folding cooperativity of a protein is controlled by its chain topology p637

Proteins often comprise domains that can be distinguished as relatively separate regions in the three-dimensional structure. Communication between these domains is important for catalysis, regulation and folding, but how they communicate is largely unclear. Here, single-molecule optical tweezers were used to pull on a protein while monitoring the energetics of unfolding and refolding events in disparate regions. By comparing topological variations of the same protein, new rules of cooperation between domains were derived.

Elizabeth A. Shank, Ciro Cecconi, Jesse W. Dill, Susan Marqusee & Carlos Bustamante


See also: Editor's summary

A novel and unified two-metal mechanism for DNA cleavage by type II and IA topoisomerases p641

Topoisomerases are enzymes that transiently make breaks in DNA, to prevent the build-up of topological stress and tangles as the genome is transcribed, replicated or repaired. Type II topoisomerases have been postulated to use a two-metal mechanism to break duplex DNA. Now, the structure of the DNA-binding and cleavage core of a yeast type II topoisomerase has been solved, showing that the enzyme uses a variation of the classical mechanism, and can also carry out the type of cleavage performed by type IA topoisomerases.

Bryan H. Schmidt, Alex B. Burgin, Joseph E. Deweese, Neil Osheroff & James M. Berger


See also: Editor's summary

Affinity gradients drive copper to cellular destinations p645

Copper is an essential trace element for eukaryotes and most prokaryotes, but it has toxic side effects, so the levels of intracellular free copper must be limited. Mass spectrometry has now been used to measure the apparent Cu(I)-binding affinities of a representative set of intracellular copper proteins involved in redox catalysis, in copper trafficking to and within different cellular compartments, and in copper storage. The results provide the thermodynamic basis for the kinetic processes that lead to the distribution of cellular copper.

Lucia Banci, Ivano Bertini, Simone Ciofi-Baffoni, Tatiana Kozyreva, Kairit Zovo & Peep Palumaa


See also: Editor's summary



Careers Q&A

Essi Viding p651

Essi Viding, a developmental psychologist at University College London, won the 2010 Wiley Prize in Psychology on 4 May from the British Academy and scientific publisher Wiley-Blackwell.

Virginia Gewin


In Brief

Mentoring for success p651

The more students someone trains, the better the success of the protégés.


UK tuition rise needed? p651

Fees must rise for British universities to stay competitive, says report.


Biotech tax credit p651

Companies will be eligible for cash if they create or sustain jobs.



Polar projects p652

Conducting research at some of Earth's most remote locales requires more than just a willingness to travel. Katharine Sanderson offers a research guide.

Katharine Sanderson




Sense of wonder p656

Memories are made of this.

Richard A. Lovett


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