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Volume 475 Issue 7355, 14 July 2011

The genome of the potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), a staple crop vital to food security, has been sequenced. The Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium sequenced a homozygous doubled-monoploid potato clone as well as a heterozygous diploid clone. Genome analysis reveals traces of at least two genome duplication events and genes specific to Asterids, a large clade of flowering plants of which the potato is the first to be sequenced. Gene presence/absence variants and other potentially deleterious mutations are frequent and may be the cause of inbreeding depression. The genome sequence will facilitate genetic improvements in the potato with a view to improving yield and to increasing disease and stress resistance of this crop, which is a now a significant component of worldwide food production and is becoming increasingly important in the developing world.


  • Editorial |

    Screening of newborns for genetic disorders is important, but so is educating parents to ensure that they give the proper consent.

  • Editorial |

    Europe's plan for a comprehensive chemical register needs more effort from all involved.

  • Editorial |

    Good news — Australia's politicians have rediscovered climate change.

World View

  • World View |

    Assessments of the wider value of research are unpopular. Proposed changes will only produce more hype and hypocrisy, says Daniel Sarewitz.

    • Daniel Sarewitz

Research Highlights

Seven Days


News Feature

  • News Feature |

    By raising hell about newborn blood-spot screening, Twila Brase could jeopardize public-health programmes and derail research. The problem is, she has a point.

    • Mary Carmichael
  • News Feature |

    The sauropods were the biggest creatures ever to walk the planet. But the keys to their success emerged in their tiny ancestors.

    • Fredric Heeren



Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Alan Brush enjoys a compelling narrative on the discoveries that have illuminated the complexities and evolution of plumage.

    • Alan Brush
  • Books & Arts |

    Brian Switek swoons over a New York exhibition that brings giant sauropods back to life.

    • Brian Switek
  • Books & Arts |

    In 1973, Herbert Terrace, a psychologist at Columbia University in New York, embarked on an experiment to teach sign language to an infant chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky, after linguist Noam Chomsky. On the release of the documentary Project Nim, Terrace talks about research ethics, chimp cognition and the origins of language.

    • Jascha Hoffman


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Many people smoke to keep their weight down. The identification of the molecular target in the brain for the appetite-suppressant effects of nicotine is a first step towards finding healthy alternatives to smoking for weight management.

    • Randy J. Seeley
    • Darleen A. Sandoval
  • News & Views |

    There have been many studies on the effects of enriched levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide on soils. A meta-analysis shows that emissions of other greenhouse gases increase under high-CO2 conditions. See Letter p.214

    • Alexander Knohl
    • Edzo Veldkamp
  • News & Views |

    New work on a rat model suggests that, after spinal-cord injury, restoration of sustained and robust respiratory function is possible using strategies that promote both neuronal plasticity and regeneration. See Article p.196

    • Katherine Zukor
    • Zhigang He
  • News & Views |

    Ideally, measurement of the energy state of a single atom would set the atom to the measured state without affecting any of its other properties. This goal has now been achieved with the assistance of a small optical cavity. See Letter p.210

    • Peter Maunz
  • News & Views |

    Life-threatening abnormalities in the electrical rhythm of the heart are usually treated with the application of a large electric shock. An approach involving a significantly smaller shock energy may be equally effective. See Letter p.235

    • Richard A. Gray
    • John P. Wikswo








  • Futures |

    It's all relative.

    • Gordon Cash

Brief Communications Arising


  • Outlook |

    As the number of Alzheimer's cases rises rapidly in an ageing global population, the need to understand this puzzling disease is growing.

    • Alison Abbott
  • Outlook |

    The hunt is on for biomarkers that signal the descent into Alzheimer's disease. One initiative is leading the pack.

    • Ruth Williams
  • Outlook |

    New methods to follow changes in the brain or blood associated with Alzheimer's disease are critical for developing and testing drugs, says Neil S. Buckholtz.

    • Neil S. Buckholtz
  • Outlook |

    Drugs in development for Alzheimer's disease take aim at a variety of neural mechanisms. But despite a wealth of possibilities, there have been few successes.

    • Lauren Gravitz
  • Outlook |

    After a quarter of a century, the amyloid hypothesis for Alzheimer's disease is reconnecting to its roots in prion research.

    • Jim Schnabel
  • Outlook |

    Can exercise, social interaction and the Mediterranean diet really help to keep the cognitive decline of Alzheimer's disease at bay?

    • Sarah DeWeerdt
  • Outlook |

    After a decade of disappointments, hopes for a successful Alzheimer's vaccine that ameliorates symptoms and ultimately prevents the disease are rising again.

    • Jim Schnabel
  • Outlook |

    Uncovering genes that are linked with Alzheimer's disease can help researchers understand what causes the disease. But it's not easy.

    • Michael Eisenstein

Nature Outlook

  • Nature Outlook |

    Alzheimer's Disease

    From dancing to drugs, research on Alzheimer's disease is moving apace. Our improved understanding of the role that amyloid-ß plays is uncovering new ways to treat and perhaps prevent the disease. Imaging the brain is improving diagnosis, and better biomarkers to track disease progression are sought. Could we soon lift the spectre of Alzheimer's disease?

Nature Briefing

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