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Daily briefing: Retinas revived after donor’s death

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A woman harvests wheat by hand in a field in Turkey

Europe’s first farming populations descend mostly from farmers in the Anatolian peninsula, in what is now Turkey.Credit: Fatih Kurt/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Ancient DNA maps ‘dawn of farming’

Europe’s first farming populations descend mostly from farmers in the Anatolian peninsula, in what is now Turkey. And the ancient Anatolian farmers descended from repeated mixing between distinct hunter-gather groups from Europe and the Middle East. A pair of ancient-DNA studies — including one of the largest assemblages of ancient human genomes yet published — reveal finer details of the dawn of farming, thanks to ‘high coverage’, or high-quality, genomes — a rarity in ancient-genomics work.

Nature | 4 min read

References: Cell paper & bioRxiv preprint

Coronavirus ‘ghosts’ linger in the gut

The evidence is growing that pieces of SARS-CoV-2 can linger in the gut for months after initial infection. The findings add weight to the hypothesis that persistent bits of virus — coronavirus “ghosts”, in the words of oncologist and geneticist Ami Bhatt — could contribute to long COVID. Researchers caution that more research is needed and the link is not conclusive.

Nature | 5 min read

Europe’s stark choice over bird-flu vaccines

France, the Netherlands and other countries hit hard by a surge in the highly infectious H5N1 strain of avian influenza are considering a formerly taboo idea: vaccinating poultry. Critics worry that the virus could circulate silently in domesticated birds that are missed or don’t fully respond to a vaccine, raising the risk of mutations that might spread to humans or wild birds. There are trade barriers for vaccinated poultry, which some regulators fear could still spread disease. And developing and administering vaccines will be expensive. But the cost of bird flu is already high: more than 16 million birds have been culled since December 2021 in France alone.

Science | 6 min read

Features & opinion

The six countries going to the Moon

Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States aim to send missions to the Moon in the next year. Science is a driving force — but not the only one. The flurry of missions signals the growing ambition of several nations and commercial players to show off their technological prowess and make their mark, particularly now that getting to the Moon is easier and cheaper than ever before.

Nature | 13 min read

Five best science books this week

Andrew Robinson’s pick of the top five science books to read this week includes the genesis of an innovation hotbed, an investigation of animal power games and how to perpetuate wonder.

Nature | 3 min read

Podcast: retinas revived after donor’s death

Retinas degrade rapidly after death, which has hindered our ability to study the organ in the laboratory. Researchers have developed a method to revive retinas removed in the hours after death.

Nature Podcast | 25 min listen

Subscribe to the Nature Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify.

A language of touch

Protactile is a movement by deafblind people to embrace touch to communicate and live more fully — conversations might include contact with the arms, shoulders and legs. Linguists now argue that the practice has evolved into its own language. Gestures such as trace, grip-wiggle and slap form words, and there are rules for how these movements can be combined. Protactile promises to increase autonomy and equality for deafblind people, says John Lee Clark, who has become a leader in the movement. “It’s an exciting time to be deafblind.”

New Yorker | 27 min read

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-022-01361-3

Exciting news: the Nature Briefing is hiring! We’re looking for an associate editor to work with me as we pursue some rather delightful development plans. The role can be based in London, New York or Washington DC, and all the details are in the job listing. I’m happy to answer any questions at briefing@nature.com or on Twitter.

Now, on to the important stuff. My current favourite co-worker, Leif Penguinson, is hiding on the winding path to the spectacularly carved riverbed of Kbal Spean in Cambodia. Can you find the penguin?

The answer will be in Monday’s e-mail, all thanks to Briefing photo editor and penguin wrangler Tom Houghton.

Thanks for reading!

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Smriti Mallapaty

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