Reviews & Analysis

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  • The landmark synthesis of a xenon compound in the early 1960s dispelled a long-standing myth about the reactivity of the noble gases — and opened the door to the rich chemistry of these elements, studies of which continue today.

    • Felice Grandinetti
    News & Views
  • Synthetic receptor proteins can enable customized and flexible control of immune cells called T lymphocytes. A defined framework for the proteins’ design now improves their potential for use in cancer immunotherapy.

    • Mohamad Hamieh
    • Maria Themeli
    News & Views
  • A genome sequence for the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea reveals a chromosome that might be primed to become a sex chromosome. The finding offers a remarkable chance to study the evolution of sex determination.

    • Yuying Lin
    • Judith E. Mank
    News & Views
  • A method has been developed for fabricating thin films of the 2D insulator hexagonal boron nitride with a uniform crystal orientation. The advance makes this material a key contender for replacing silica substrates in future electronics.

    • Soo Ho Choi
    • Soo Min Kim
    News & Views
  • Two studies of the mutations acquired by blood-forming cells over time provide insights into the dynamics of blood production in humans and its relationship to ageing.

    • Aswin Sekar
    • Benjamin L. Ebert
    News & Views
  • Carbon–carbon single bonds are found in most organic molecules. A new electrocatalytic method can create such bonds by uniting different alkyl carboxylic acids, substantially shortening synthetic routes to useful molecules. The reaction uses inexpensive reagents in a simple and scalable set-up, and allows the inclusion of many other functional groups.

    Research Briefing
  • Neurotransmitters have key roles in regulating the nervous system. To better understand these processes, researchers need tools to analyse neurotransmitter signalling in the organs of living animals. We have invented NeuroString, a soft sensor for monoamine neurotransmitters, which can be fitted to the brain or gut of animals without disturbing the organ’s natural functions.

    Research Briefing
  • Informing people once about physicians’ views on COVID-19 vaccination improves vaccination rates by 4 percentage points after 9 months. This finding suggests that light-touch educative nudges can have lasting positive effects.

    • Nina Mažar
    News & Views
  • 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