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Volume 452 Issue 7185, 20 March 2008


  • Editorial |

    The water shortage that threatens humanity will have wide-ranging consequences for agriculture and energy production, requiring significant shifts in the way this precious resource is managed.

  • Editorial |

    Giving drug firms immunity from prosecution over inaccurate labelling would not serve the public.

  • Editorial |

    Universities should target the challenges that a virtual technology powerhouse probably won't meet.

Research Highlights

Journal Club


  • News |

    Climate change, growing populations and political concerns are prompting governments and investors from California to China to take a fresh look at desalination. Quirin Schiermeier wades in.

    • Quirin Schiermeier
  • News |

    Representatives of 21 stem-cell funding agencies from 19 countries — members of the International Stem Cell Forum — met in San Francisco at the end of February to discuss collaborations and how to coordinate cell banks and registries. Among them was Leszek Borysiewicz, head of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), who spoke to Nature about the effort.

    • Monya Baker

News in Brief

  • News in Brief |

    Scribbles on the margins of science.


News in Brief

  • News in Brief |

    Exotic animals as you've never seen them before.

    • Anna Petherick


News in Brief

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    In parts of the world already facing unreliable food supplies, an uncertain climate adds to the future stress for soils, plants and people. Quirin Schiermeier reports on water strategies for a drier world.

    • Quirin Schiermeier



  • Commentary |

    All-or-nothing targets for global access to basic amenities such as drinking water and sanitation are outdated. The time has come, says Jamie Bartram, for a more fluid approach.

    • Jamie Bartram
  • Commentary |

    Global energy consumption is expected to grow by 50% by 2030, squeezing already scarce water resources. Mike Hightower and Suzanne A. Pierce recommend ways to integrate water and energy planning.

    • Mike Hightower
    • Suzanne A. Pierce

Books & Arts


  • Essay |

    Yet another theory of liquid water structure raises questions about interdisciplinarity, drug design, astrobiology, molecular biology, geochemistry and more.

    • Philip Ball

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    An unexpected imbalance in how particles containing the heaviest quarks decay might reveal exotic influences — and perhaps help to explain why matter, rather than antimatter, dominates the Universe.

    • Michael E. Peskin
  • News & Views |

    To perceive seasons, animals compare changes in day length with the constant cycle of their inner circadian clock. At a molecular level, light signals trigger coordinated gene-expression events in the brain.

    • Hitoshi Okamura
  • News & Views |

    Investigations of planets outside our Solar System are becoming ever more sophisticated. The latest development is the discovery of a carbon-containing molecule in the atmosphere of one such extrasolar body.

    • Adam P. Showman
  • News & Views |

    The tendency of humans to punish perceived free-loaders, even at a cost to themselves, is an evolutionary puzzle: punishers perish, and those who benefit the most are those who have never punished at all.

    • Manfred Milinski
    • Bettina Rockenbach
  • News & Views |

    Charged particles influenced by electromagnetic fields, even when the two never touch? Surely, it can only be quantum physics. But surprisingly, the quantum nature of this particular effect has been disputed.

    • Akira Tonomura
    • Franco Nori

Review Article

  • Review Article |

    This article highlights some of the science and technology being developed to improve the disinfection and decontamination of water, as well as efforts to increase water supplies through the safe reuse of wastewater and efficient desalination of sea and brackish water.

    • Mark A. Shannon
    • Paul W. Bohn
    • Anne M. Mayes


  • Article |

    Some refractory rocks from the ultra-slow spreading Gakkel ridge (Arctic Ocean) have model ages up to 2 billion years, implying the long-term preservation of refractory domains in the asthenospheric mantle rather than their erasure by mantle convection. It is suggested that the upwelling mantle beneath mid-ocean ridges is highly heterogeneous, which make its composition difficult to be constrained by mid-ocean ridge basalts alone.

    • Chuan-Zhou Liu
    • Jonathan E. Snow
    • Albrecht W. Hofmann
  • Article |

    This paper examines the changes in gene expression during the first exposure to a long day (such as those found in spring) in Japanese quails and find that two waves of genes are induced as part of the photoperiodic response. This paper also identifies thyrotrophin expression in the pars tuberalis as a critical event in triggering this photoperiodic response.

    • Nobuhiro Nakao
    • Hiroko Ono
    • Takashi Yoshimura
  • Article |

    Production of type-I interferon is regulated by the transcription factor IRF-7. This paper shows that IRF-7 is negatively regulated by translational repressor proteins 4E-BP1 and 4E-BP2. Viral infection promotes mTOR-mediated phosphorylation of the repressor proteins and allows type-I interferon production to proceed.

    • Rodney Colina
    • Mauro Costa-Mattioli
    • Nahum Sonenberg


  • Letter |

    Water, carbon monoxide and methane are anticipated to be the main molecules (other than hydrogen) in the atmosphere of extrasolar planets. This paper reports a near-infrared transmission spectrum of the planet HD 189733b that shows the presence of methane and water, however, carbon monoxide is not seen.

    • Mark R. Swain
    • Gautam Vasisht
    • Giovanna Tinetti
  • Letter |

    This study measures direct CP violation in B meson decays. Previous work suggested a difference in the decay of charged and neutral particles, but the large uncertainties on these measurements made it difficult to say whether the difference was real. This study reduces the uncertainty on the charged particle decay rate asymmetry by a factor of 1.7. Although firm conclusions cannot be drawn from this result, the measurement provides stronger evidence for a large deviation in direct CP violation between charged and neutral B-meson decays and possible new sources of CP violation beyond the standard model.

    • S.-W. Lin
    • Y. Unno
    • A. Zupanc
  • Letter |

    High precision neodymium isotope data for 16 martian meteorites is presented, and shows that Mars has a non-chondritic composition. The Earth, Moon and Mars therefore seem to have all accreted in a portion of the inner solar system with 5 percent higher Sm/Nd ratio compared with material accreted in the asteroid belt.

    • Guillaume Caro
    • Bernard Bourdon
    • Ghylaine Quitté
  • Letter |

    The relationship between the variability of survival and population abundance of wild fish based on a global compilation of fisheries data is examined, and it is concluded that density-dependent survival variability increases at low population sizes, with important consequences for fisheries management.

    • Coilín Minto
    • Ransom A. Myers
    • Wade Blanchard
  • Letter |

    An experimental economics approach finds that punishment increases the frequency of cooperation, but not the average payoff. Thus, the option of costly punishment does not confer an advantage to the group. Moreover, players who end up with the highest total payoff ('winners') do not use punishment, whereas players who end up with the lowest payoff ('losers') use punishment most frequently.

    • Anna Dreber
    • David G. Rand
    • Martin A. Nowak
  • Letter |

    Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have shown that it is possible to deduce simple features in the visual scene or to which category it belongs. A decoding method based on quantitative receptive field models that characterize the relationship between visual stimuli and fMRI activity in early visual areas has now been developed. These models make it possible to identify, out of a large set of completely novel complex images, which specific image was seen by an observer.

    • Kendrick N. Kay
    • Thomas Naselaris
    • Jack L. Gallant
  • Letter |

    Naive CD4 and CD8 T cells give rise to effector and long-lived memory T cells after activation by antigen. This paper provides evidence that memory CD4 T cells, similar to their CD8 counterparts, differentiate in a linear fashion from effector cells rather than by an alternative differentiation pathway.

    • Laurie E. Harrington
    • Karen M. Janowski
    • Casey T. Weaver
  • Letter |

    An investigation into how poikilothermic organisms are able to maintain highly effective mechanical responses finds that a protein called Spam forms an extracellular shield that guards mechanosensory neurons from environmental insult. Spam also enables cells to resist physically and chemically induced deformation.

    • Boaz Cook
    • Robert W. Hardy
    • Charles S. Zuker
  • Letter |

    The transcription factor REST has been implicated in tumourigenesis, and β-TrCP regulates REST degradation. REST, in turn, controls the chromosome stability by regulating the expression of spindle checkpoint protein Mad2, suggesting that this mechanism contributes to the roles of β-TrCP and REST in transformation.

    • Daniele Guardavaccaro
    • David Frescas
    • Michele Pagano
  • Letter |

    The X-ray structure of a prokaryotic pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGIC) from the bacterium Erwinia chrysanthemi (ELIC) at 3.3 Å resolution is presented. This study reveals the first structure of a pLGIC at high resolution and provides an important model system for the investigation of the general mechanisms of ion permeation and gating within the family.

    • Ricarda J. C. Hilf
    • Raimund Dutzler



Special Report

  • Special Report |

    US researchers are keen to find ways to address health disparities among minorities. Paul Smaglik reports.

    • Paul Smaglik


Networks and Support

Career View

  • Career View |

    I'm on a field-research high.

    • Aliza le Roux


  • Futures |

    A new career for the home help.

    • Alexander Hay


Brief Communications Arising

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