Volume 457 Issue 7232, 19 February 2009

Can science thrive during an economic downturn? In a series of seven Commentaries, introduced on page 957, specialists in policy-making, history, economics and innovation offer advice that might help. For more online extras see www.nature.com/recessionwatch [Cover illustration: Daniel Mackie.]



  • Editorial |

    It is time for all involved to tackle the chronic scandal of cell-line contamination. Funders first.

Research Highlights

Journal Club


News in Brief

News Feature



  • Commentary |

    The global economic downturn brings both predicament and promise. How will science fare and what role should scientists play on the long road back to recovery and growth? Ten of the world's leading thinkers and practitioners provide analysis, experience and advice.

  • Commentary |

    Directing finance into sustainable infrastructure in the poorest countries helps the whole world, says Jeffrey Sachs.

    • Jeffrey Sachs
  • Commentary |

    Scientists must be prepared to explain why research budgets need protecting when times are tough, says Ian Taylor.

    • Ian Taylor
  • Commentary |

    During the Great Depression, scientists proved to America why researchers are key to nation-building, says Eric Rauchway.

    • Eric Rauchway
  • Commentary |

    Basic research saw a boost in Japan's last recession. Better global links will help in the current one, say Atsushi Sunami and Kiyoshi Kurokawa.

    • Atsushi Sunami
    •  & Kiyoshi Kurokawa
  • Commentary |

    Technology start-ups need to trim their sails in rough economic times, says John Browning.

    • John Browning
  • Commentary |

    Navigating an unpredictable world will need different research disciplines to work together as equals, says Noreena Hertz.

    • Noreena Hertz
  • Commentary |

    Regulating leverage, not interest rates, is the answer to a troubled economy, says John Geanakoplos.

    • John Geanakoplos

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Nobel prizewinner Paul Krugman's updated analysis of past economic crises teaches us that recovery now will require more than a new set of rules, explains Bill Emmott.

    • Bill Emmott
  • Books & Arts |

    Communicating the ideas of evolution is as much a challenge now as it was 150 years ago. In the wake of his recent BBC television programme, Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life, naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough tackles those who challenge evolution head on.

    • Adam Rutherford

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Apparently pristine African tropical forests are increasing in tree biomass, making them net absorbers of carbon dioxide. Is this a sign of atmospheric change, or of recovery from past trauma?

    • Helene C. Muller-Landau
  • News & Views |

    Neurodegeneration often has disease connotations. However, it is also a developmental process for fine sculpting of the nervous system. One signalling cascade might mediate the process in both circumstances.

    • Donald W. Nicholson
  • News & Views |

    An innovative approach for exciting and detecting signals in magnetic resonance imaging not only improves image quality but also enables radical changes in scanner design by freeing up space around the patient.

    • Paul Glover
    •  & Richard Bowtell
  • News & Views |

    Striking instances of larval metamorphosis, and of adult sexual dimorphism, are not uncommon in the animal world. But especially dramatic examples of these phenomena have emerged from the deep sea.

    • Rory Howlett
  • News & Views |

    The known world of RNA is expanding faster than that of any other cellular building block. The latest additions are types of long and short non-coding RNAs formed by bidirectional transcription and unusual processing.

    • Piero Carninci




  • Letter |

    The Leo ring is a massive, 200-kpc-wide structure orbiting the galaxies M105 and NGC3384 with a 4-Gyr period. This paper reports ultraviolet light originating from gaseous substructures, which is attributed to recent massive star formation. If structures like the Leo ring were common in the early Universe, they may have produced a large, yet undetected population of faint, metal-poor, halo-lacking dwarf galaxies.

    • David A. Thilker
    • , Jennifer Donovan
    • , David Schiminovich
    • , Luciana Bianchi
    • , Samuel Boissier
    • , Armando Gil de Paz
    • , Barry F. Madore
    • , D. Christopher Martin
    •  & Mark Seibert
  • Letter |

    Magnetic resonance imaging is widely used in the sciences and medicine, with the same basic underlying detection principle: the need for intimate coupling between nuclear magnetization in the sample under investigation and the detector. This study now shows a new detection principle, where the nuclear magnetization signal can be excited (and detected) via a long-range interaction utilizing travelling radiofrequency waves in a suitably modified MRI system. This approach offers more uniform coverage of larger samples.

    • David O. Brunner
    • , Nicola De Zanche
    • , Jürg Fröhlich
    • , Jan Paska
    •  & Klaas P. Pruessmann
  • Letter |

    Assembling complex structures out of simple colloidal building blocks can produce materials with important practical properties and enables enhanced understanding of the self-assembly processes on several length scales. This paper shows self-assembly of a multi-component colloidal mixture of magnetic and nonmagnetic particles driven by magnetic interactions.

    • Randall M. Erb
    • , Hui S. Son
    • , Bappaditya Samanta
    • , Vincent M. Rotello
    •  & Benjamin B. Yellen
  • Letter |

    This study reports data from a network of long-term monitoring plots across African tropical forests, which finds that above-ground carbon storage in live trees increased by 0.63 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 between 1968 and 2007. The data is extrapolated to unmeasured forest components, and by scaling to the continent, a total increase in carbon storage in African tropical forest trees of 0.34 Pg C yr−1 is estimated. These results provide evidence that increasing carbon storage in old-growth forests is a pan-tropical phenomenon.

    • Simon L. Lewis
    • , Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez
    • , Bonaventure Sonké
    • , Kofi Affum-Baffoe
    • , Timothy R. Baker
    • , Lucas O. Ojo
    • , Oliver L. Phillips
    • , Jan M. Reitsma
    • , Lee White
    • , James A. Comiskey
    • , Marie-Noël Djuikouo K
    • , Corneille E. N. Ewango
    • , Ted R. Feldpausch
    • , Alan C. Hamilton
    • , Manuel Gloor
    • , Terese Hart
    • , Annette Hladik
    • , Jon Lloyd
    • , Jon C. Lovett
    • , Jean-Remy Makana
    • , Yadvinder Malhi
    • , Frank M. Mbago
    • , Henry J. Ndangalasi
    • , Julie Peacock
    • , Kelvin S.-H. Peh
    • , Douglas Sheil
    • , Terry Sunderland
    • , Michael D. Swaine
    • , James Taplin
    • , David Taylor
    • , Sean C. Thomas
    • , Raymond Votere
    •  & Hannsjörg Wöll
  • Letter |

    In vertebrates and other deuterostomes, the molecular pathway that leads to asymmetry utilizes the signalling molecule Nodal, a member of the TGF-β superfamily. But no orthologues of Nodal have been found in the other two great groups of bilaterians. This paper finds orthologues of nodal and one of its targets, Pitx, in two species of snail, and show that loss of nodal disrupts shell coiling.

    • Cristina Grande
    •  & Nipam H. Patel
  • Letter |

    This report introduces a computational model based on internet search queries for real-time surveillance of influenza-like illness (ILI), which reproduces the patterns observed in ILI data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • Jeremy Ginsberg
    • , Matthew H. Mohebbi
    • , Rajan S. Patel
    • , Lynnette Brammer
    • , Mark S. Smolinski
    •  & Larry Brilliant
  • Letter |

    Neurons can perform mathematical operations such as additions, with their firing rate (the output) representing the sum of their synaptic conductances (the input). Multiplication, in turn, can result from changes in the slope (or gain) of such input–output relationship. Such changes in a neuron's sensitivity result from neuromodulation and are key to numerous higher brain computations. A study using rat cerebellum demonstrates that short-term synaptic plasticity brings the fundamental non-linearity, allowing neuromodulatory inhibition to act multiplicatively instead of additively.

    • Jason S. Rothman
    • , Laurence Cathala
    • , Volker Steuber
    •  & R. Angus Silver
  • Letter |

    This study presents the crystal structure of a Fas-FADD complex, a central feature of the so-called death inducing signalling complex. The structure reveals a new mode of death domain interactions that allows four FADD and four Fas proteins in one complex.

    • Fiona L. Scott
    • , Boguslaw Stec
    • , Cristina Pop
    • , Małgorzata K. Dobaczewska
    • , JeongEun J. Lee
    • , Edward Monosov
    • , Howard Robinson
    • , Guy S. Salvesen
    • , Robert Schwarzenbacher
    •  & Stefan J. Riedl
  • Letter |

    Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) serve as gateways between the nucleus and cytoplasm and allow only the transport of selected macromolecules across the nuclear envelope. NPCs are comprised of a scaffold that anchors proteins called FG-nucleoporins, which contain disordered regions that line the inner surface of the pore and extend into the lumen. This study reports the design of an artificial membrane that functions as a selective filter in allowing efficient passage of transport factors and transport factor carrying cargo that specifically bind to FG-nucleoporins.

    • Tijana Jovanovic-Talisman
    • , Jaclyn Tetenbaum-Novatt
    • , Anna Sophia McKenney
    • , Anton Zilman
    • , Reiner Peters
    • , Michael P. Rout
    •  & Brian T. Chait
  • Letter |

    The transcriptomes of eukaryotic cells are unexpectedly complex, with virtually the entire non-repeat portions of many genomes being transcribed. Using deep sequencing, this study reveals that a remarkable breadth of RNA species that come from both within annotated genes and from unannotated intergenic regions in human cells. Many of these small RNAs possess cap structures and seem to be processed from mature mRNAs resulting in populations of long and short RNAs with capped 5' ends that coincide.

    • Katalin Fejes-Toth
    • , Vihra Sotirova
    • , Ravi Sachidanandam
    • , Gordon Assaf
    • , Gregory J. Hannon
    • , Philipp Kapranov
    • , Sylvain Foissac
    • , Aarron T. Willingham
    • , Radha Duttagupta
    • , Erica Dumais
    •  & Thomas R. Gingeras
  • Letter |

    One of two papers in this issue that reveal the prevalence of cryptic or hidden transcription in the yeast genome. Cryptic unstable transcripts (CUTs) are a major class of RNA polymerase II transcripts in budding yeast and are degraded immediately after being synthesized. In these papers, high-resolution genome analyses reveal that CUTs arise predominantly from promoter regions and in an antisense direction. There is therefore a widespread occurrence of inherently bidirectional promoters in yeast.

    • Zhenyu Xu
    • , Wu Wei
    • , Julien Gagneur
    • , Fabiana Perocchi
    • , Sandra Clauder-Münster
    • , Jurgi Camblong
    • , Elisa Guffanti
    • , Françoise Stutz
    • , Wolfgang Huber
    •  & Lars M. Steinmetz
  • Letter |

    One of two papers in this issue that reveal the prevalence of cryptic or hidden transcription in the yeast genome. Cryptic unstable transcripts (CUTs) are a major class of RNA polymerase II transcripts in budding yeast and are degraded immediately after being synthesized. In these papers, high-resolution genome analyses reveal that CUTs arise predominantly from promoter regions and in an antisense direction. There is therefore a widespread occurrence of inherently bidirectional promoters in yeast.

    • Helen Neil
    • , Christophe Malabat
    • , Yves d’Aubenton-Carafa
    • , Zhenyu Xu
    • , Lars M. Steinmetz
    •  & Alain Jacquier


  • Prospects |

    Tackling corporate culture with the help of YouTube.

    • Gene Russo


Bricks & Mortar

Career View


  • Futures |

    An act of faith.

    • T. F. Davenport
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