Reviews & Analysis

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  • While rats pause to eat or rest during navigation tasks, neuronal sequences in the brain are replaying routes around moving obstacles, allowing the animals to reach their goals even in changing environments.

    • Jérôme Epsztein
    News & Views
  • Analysis of climate pledges by nations at the COP26 meeting indicates that such commitments could ensure that global warming does not exceed 2 ºC before 2100 — but only if backed up by short-term policies.

    • Zeke Hausfather
    • Frances C. Moore
    News & Views
  • The polarization, wavelength and power of a light wave can be simultaneously identified by a compact device made from twisted layers of carbon atoms — with a little help from an artificial neural network.

    • Justin C. W. Song
    • Yidong Chong
    News & Views
  • Throughout life, cells accrue mutations. It now emerges that longer-lived animals acquire mutations at a slower rate than do short-lived species, potentially explaining why cancer risk does not increase with lifespan.

    • Alexander N. Gorelick
    • Kamila Naxerova
    News & Views
  • The inner workings of a family of proteins, known as adhesion G-protein-coupled receptors, have finally been visualized at high resolution — revealing the structural basis of their self-activation mechanism.

    • Antony A. Boucard
    News & Views
  • Climate effects on ecosystems shaped the evolution of our hominin relatives in the human family tree. A modelling study examines these habitat changes and the various ways in which they influenced hominin species.

    • Michael D. Petraglia
    News & Views
  • The benefits and future prospects of neuromorphic, or bio-inspired, computing technologies are discussed, as is the need for a global, coordinated approach to funding, research and collaboration.

    • A. Mehonic
    • A. J. Kenyon
    Perspective
  • Gaining the ability to make stone tools was a useful development for early human ancestors in the hominin branch of the evolutionary tree. Could studying orangutans provide clues to how this behaviour arose?

    • Michael Haslam
    News & Views
  • Two differing approaches that are used to study common and rare genetic causes of schizophrenia reveal convergent clues about the biology underlying this complex disorder.

    • Conrad O. Iyegbe
    • Paul F. O’Reilly
    News & Views
  • The pathogen responsible for the continuing seventh cholera pandemic typically lacks self-replicating plasmids. Genetics, cell biology and bioinformatics analyses have identified two DNA-defence systems that protect bacterial populations from plasmids and bacteriophages, and that might have shaped the evolution of modern Vibrio cholerae.

    Research Briefing
  • A general method that quantifies and disentangles the effects of a gene’s mutations on the traits of its protein enables assessments of mutational effects on protein biophysics for many of the proteins of a living organism.

    • Debora S. Marks
    • Stephen W. Michnick
    News & Views
  • The antibiotic fidaxomicin acts selectively on the bacterium Clostridioides difficile, a main cause of intestinal infections. Structural and biochemical experiments reveal a region in the enzyme RNA polymerase that can sensitize the pathogen to fidaxomicin, helping to explain the drug’s selective clinical activity.

    Research Briefing
  • A cubic metre of tellurium held at cryogenic temperatures over many years has enabled a search for matter created in a rare nuclear process. The feat bodes well for stabilizing other complex systems at low temperatures.

    • Jason Detwiler
    News & Views
  • A paper published in 1997 brought the thermodynamics of the nineteenth century into the twenty-first century — expanding the physics of transformations involved in the operation of steam engines to the realm of molecular motors.

    • Chase P. Broedersz
    • Pierre Ronceray
    News & Views
  • For the first time, audible sounds have been recorded at the surface of Mars by two microphones aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover. Recordings across frequencies of 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz and above reveal the dynamics of the planet’s atmosphere and the distinctive sound-propagation properties of an atmosphere dominated by carbon dioxide.

    Research Briefing
  • The SARS-CoV-2 Assessment of Viral Evolution (SAVE) programme provides a real-time risk assessment of SARS-CoV-2 variants with the potential to affect transmission, virulence and resistance to infection- and vaccine-induced immunity.

    • Marciela M. DeGrace
    • Elodie Ghedin
    • Mehul S. Suthar
    Perspective