Reviews & Analysis

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  • Recent progress in computational enzyme design, active site engineering and directed evolution are reviewed, highlighting methodological innovations needed to deliver improved designer biocatalysts.

    • Sarah L. Lovelock
    • Rebecca Crawshaw
    • Anthony P. Green
    Review Article
  • The economic value that the world’s ecosystems provide was first estimated in 1997, eliciting a wide range of reactions. How have such valuations advanced since then, and what are today’s frontiers in using these values for decision-making?

    • Gretchen C. Daily
    • Mary Ruckelshaus
    News & Views
  • From frogs remaining airborne using their webbed feet to lizards and snakes gliding by expanding their ribcages, biologists might have thought they had seen every unusual aerial strategy — but now they report flying salamanders.

    • David Lentink
    News & Views
  • The trigeminal nerve has a key role in migraine. An atlas of cell types and gene-expression profiles for cells in this nerve in mice and humans promises to improve our understanding of head pain.

    • Philip R. Holland
    • Peter J. Goadsby
    News & Views
  • Simulations show that rising global temperatures and changes in land use will drive new encounters between mammalian species. This could lead to an increase in virus- sharing events that might threaten both wildlife and humans.

    • Rachel E. Baker
    • C. Jessica E. Metcalf
    News & Views
  • Next-generation wireless services will demand massive increases in data traffic, requiring access to signals at higher frequencies than are presently used. This would disrupt scientific research, but a savvy sharing protocol offers a fix.

    • Janise McNair
    News & Views
  • The seas are acidifying as a result of carbon dioxide emissions. It now emerges that this will alter the solubility of the shells of marine organisms called diatoms — and thereby change the distribution of nutrients and plankton in the ocean.

    • David A. Hutchins
    News & Views
  • Neuronal fibres have been tracked as they regrow into the skin following nerve injury in mice. The analysis reveals that mis-wiring of pain-sensing fibres generates hypersensitivity to touch in skin associated with the injury.

    • Suna L. Cranfill
    • Wenqin Luo
    News & Views
  • For more than a century, scientists have pondered over mysterious fossils of an aquatic vertebrate, and argued about the type of creature this species represents. Newly analysed specimens might help to solve this puzzle.

    • Jorge Mondéjar Fernández
    • Philippe Janvier
    News & Views
  • An immune molecule has an unexpected role in memory formation — specifically, in limiting the window of time in which newly forming memories can be contextually linked.

    • Andrea Terceros
    • Priya Rajasethupathy
    News & Views
  • An aerial technique that can capture hidden signs of human modifications of ancient landscapes has provided data that will prompt a rethink about the types of settlement inhabited by early societies in the Amazon region.

    • Christopher T. Fisher
    News & Views
  • The control of light–matter interactions as a way to manipulate and synthesize strongly correlated quantum matter is discussed, highlighting a field termed ‘strongly correlated electron–photon science’.

    • Jacqueline Bloch
    • Andrea Cavalleri
    • Angel Rubio
  • Oceanic plate carbon reservoirs are reconstructed and the fate of subducted carbon is tracked using thermodynamic modelling, challenging previous views and providing boundary conditions for future carbon cycle models.

    • R. Dietmar Müller
    • Ben Mather
    • Sabin Zahirovic
    Review Article
  • Sequences of the human genome have typically included gaps in repetitive regions of DNA. A combination of state-of-the-art technologies has now enabled researchers to generate the first complete human genome sequence.

    • John T. Lovell
    • Jane Grimwood
    News & Views
  • It has been unclear how the brain creates stable visual experiences from the highly variable activity of individual neurons. Imaging from thousands of neurons across the entire mouse visual cortex provides an explanation.

    • Tatiana Engel
    News & Views
  • The migration and growth of cancer cells at sites far from the initial tumour is usually fatal. Metabolic heterogeneity — variable expression of an enzyme in the initial tumour — is identified as an early step in this deadly process.

    • Sanjeethan C. Baksh
    • Lydia W. S. Finley
    News & Views