Complexity Research in Nature Communications

This web collection showcases the potential of interdisciplinary complexity research by bringing together a selection of recent Nature Communications articles investigating complex systems. Complexity research aims to characterize and understand the behaviour and nature of systems made up of many interacting elements. Such efforts often require interdisciplinary collaboration and expertise from diverse schools of thought. Nature Communications publishes papers across a broad range of topics that span the physical and life sciences, making the journal an ideal home for interdisciplinary studies.

The Ecology and evolution section contains studies that explore the dynamics of networks of genes, individuals and communities using combinations of empirical data and mathematical tools. Other examples of computational modeling in biology include studies on precision medicine and molecular network dynamics, and these are highlighted in Network medicine tab. Neuroscience is another discipline that is effectively leveraging network analysis to better understand how the complex interactions between neuroanatomy and function give rise to equally complex human behaviors. Such behaviors, when combined, give rise to cultures and societies.  The latter are paradigmatic complex systems, and articles presented in the Social systems section examine these paradigmatic complex systems, describing the dynamics of social systems, financial systems and transport networks that affect much of our daily lives.  Finally, the collection under the Network structure and dynamics tab showcases methodological advances in complex system modeling and network analysis. The articles that we felt represented each section particularly well are also available in the Editors' picks section, below.  

Solving some of the most important problems in science may only be possible when scientists with different backgrounds collaborate to address shared questions using complementary techniques. Truly interdisciplinary research that can bridge the natural, physical and social sciences remains challenging, as it requires scientists to share and discuss their views across disciplines, and therefore such research must also be able to reach a diverse audience. Our collection, which has been chosen by editors across the broad spectrum of subjects covered by Nature Communications, has been put together with this specific goal in mind.  


Editors' picks

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Mouse digit patterning is controlled by a Turing network of Bmp, Sox9, and Wnt. Here, Onimaru et al. show that fin patterning in the catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula, is controlled by the same network with a different spatial organization; thus, the Turing network is deeply conserved in limb development.

    • Koh Onimaru
    • , Luciano Marcon
    • , Marco Musy
    • , Mikiko Tanaka
    •  &  James Sharpe
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Understanding the dynamics of empirical food webs is of central importance for predicting the stability of ecological communities. Here Allesina et al. derive an approximation to accurately predict the stability of large food webs whose structure is built using the cascade model.

    • Stefano Allesina
    • , Jacopo Grilli
    • , György Barabás
    • , Si Tang
    • , Johnatan Aljadeff
    •  &  Amos Maritan
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Attempts to predict novel use for existing drugs rarely consider information on the impact on the genes perturbed in a given disease. Here, the authors present a novel network-based drug-disease proximity measure that provides insight on gene specific therapeutic effect of drugs and may facilitate drug repurposing.

    • Emre Guney
    • , Jörg Menche
    • , Marc Vidal
    •  &  Albert-László Barábasi
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The hippocampus is known to support navigation, but how it processes possible paths to aid navigation is unknown. Here Javadi et al. show that entering streets drives hippocampal activity corresponding to the number of future paths, and that prefrontal activity corresponds to path-planning demands.

    • Amir-Homayoun Javadi
    • , Beatrix Emo
    • , Lorelei R. Howard
    • , Fiona E. Zisch
    • , Yichao Yu
    • , Rebecca Knight
    • , Joao Pinelo Silva
    •  &  Hugo J. Spiers
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Proximity to criticality can be advantageous under changing conditions, but it also entails reduced robustness. Here, the authors analyse fight sizes in a macaque society and find not only that it sits near criticality, but also that the distance from the critical point is tunable through adjustment of individual behaviour and social conflict management.

    • Bryan C. Daniels
    • , David C. Krakauer
    •  &  Jessica C. Flack
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The spread of instabilities in financial systems, similarly to ecosystems, is influenced by topological features of the underlying network structures. Here the authors show, independently of specific financial models, that market integration and diversification can drive the system towards instability.

    • Marco Bardoscia
    • , Stefano Battiston
    • , Fabio Caccioli
    •  &  Guido Caldarelli