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Volume 502 Issue 7469, 3 October 2013

An artists conception of an erupting supervolcano on Mars blasting massive amounts of ash into the atmosphere (vertical scale exaggerated). Some of the ash would have fallen from the atmosphere to form vast deposits of fine-grained, layered rocks, but some of it would have remained in suspension for years, strongly perturbing the ancient Martian climate. In this issue, Joseph Michalski and Jacob Bleacher report new results suggesting that supervolcanoes existed in the Arabia Terra region of Mars an area with many deposits of layered rocks of unknown origins that has not previously been considered a volcanic terrain. They propose that ancient Martian calderas might have been misinterpreted as impact craters that were degraded by erosion. If supervolcanoes were common on ancient Mars, it would have major implications for estimates of volcanic outgassing, climate evolution and formation of the planets layered, fragmented upper crust. Credit: Mark Garlick.


  • Editorial |

    The idea of standardizing science and removing barriers to research mobility across Europe is simple, but putting it into practice has proved more challenging.

  • Editorial |

    Behavioural geneticists must tread carefully to prevent their research being misinterpreted.

  • Editorial |

    Research on chickens is legitimate — but scientists and funders must learn to justify it.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days

  • Seven Days |

    The week in science: Island appears after Pakistan quake, MacArthur Foundation announces ‘genius’ grants for 2013, and Spain’s 2014 budget offers small boost to science.


  • News |

    Australian government axes carbon tax and designated science minister, but says it will not cut research funding.

    • Cheryl Jones
  • News |

    Former US drug-company chief appeals conviction for fraud over interpretation of results.

    • Ewen Callaway
  • News |

    Theoretical physicists are pursuing competing ways to calculate how particles interact.

    • Eugenie Samuel Reich
  • News |

    ‘Breakthrough therapy’ status is much sought after, but there is confusion about its definition and impact.

    • Heidi Ledford

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    The Gaia spacecraft will soon launch on a mission to chart the heavens in unprecedented detail.

    • Devin Powell
  • News Feature |

    Probing the biological basis of certain traits ignites controversy. But some scientists choose to cross the red line anyway.

    • Erika Check Hayden


  • Comment |

    The United States should install an earthquake early-warning system now — and before the next big one hits, says Richard Allen.

    • Richard Allen
  • Comment |

    Finding that part of the story of Louis Pasteur's rabies vaccine is false, Héloïse Dufour and Sean Carroll explore how science fables are born, spread and die.

    • Héloïse D. Dufour
    • Sean B. Carroll

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Philip Ball finds much to engage and surprise in Malcolm Gladwell's study of power and how it is misinterpreted.

    • Philip Ball
  • Books & Arts |

    Marcus du Sautoy is enthralled by a personal journey into mathematics centring on the Langlands program.

    • Marcus du Sautoy
  • Books & Arts |

    London's Victoria and Albert Museum holds more than 100,000 textile pieces. From next week, all tapestries, lace, kimonos and more not on display will be stored in the new Clothworkers' Centre for the Study and Conservation of Textiles and Fashion. Head conservator Sandra Smith talks about fabric-feasting insects, gas-emitting sequins and leaky, sticky PVC dresses.

    • Josie Glausiusz


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Two independent experiments have demonstrated control of one mobile quantum of excitation by another. The results are likely to have ramifications for information processing and transfer. See Letters p.71 & p.76

    • Sougato Bose
  • News & Views |

    Conferring stem-cell potential on mature cells is not easy. A decisive impediment to this process has now been identified, and its elimination allows almost all mature cells to efficiently adopt a stem-cell identity. See Article p.65

    • Kyle M. Loh
    • Bing Lim
  • News & Views |

    An alloy has been made that undergoes a remarkably reproducible phase transition over thousands of cycles. This finding could allow the development of practically useful materials that 'remember' their shape after deformation. See Letter p.85

    • Toshihiro Omori
    • Ryosuke Kainuma
  • News & Views |

    Rings in biologically active molecules confer rigidity that helps the molecules to bind strongly and selectively to their targets. A ring-forming mechanism has been identified that involves a biochemically unusual reaction. See Letter p.124

    • Craig A. Townsend
  • News & Views |

    Data obtained from analysing chromosomal organization and interactions in individual cells unify previous results obtained by single-cell imaging and studies of population-averaged genomic interactions. See Article p.59

    • Job Dekker
    • Leonid Mirny


  • Article |

    Several irregularly shaped craters located within Arabia Terra, Mars, are interpreted as a new type of highland volcanic construct, similar to supervolcanoes on Earth, fundamentally changing the picture of ancient volcanism and climate evolution on Mars.

    • Joseph R. Michalski
    • Jacob E. Bleacher
  • Article |

    The ChIP-exo technique is used to map the organization of transcription initiation complexes across the human genome at near-base-pair resolution; most of the transcription initiation complexes give rise to non-coding, non-polyadenylated RNA, indicating that pervasive non-coding transcription arise from specific promoters and is regulated.

    • Bryan J. Venters
    • B. Franklin Pugh
  • Article |

    A novel genomic technique, single-cell Hi-C, detects thousands of simultaneous chromatin contacts in a single cell; this is used to show that individual chromosomes maintain domain organization at the megabase scale, but that chromosome structures vary from cell to cell at larger scales.

    • Takashi Nagano
    • Yaniv Lubling
    • Peter Fraser
  • Article |

    This study shows that the combination of naive pluripotency growth conditions, Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and Myc (OSKM) overexpression, and depleting the Mbd3/NuRD co-repressor results in deterministic and synchronized reprogramming to pluripotency.

    • Yoach Rais
    • Asaf Zviran
    • Jacob H. Hanna


  • Letter |

    By coupling light to strongly interacting atomic Rydberg states in a dispersive regime, it is possible to induce individual photons to travel as massive particles with strong mutual attraction, such that the propagation of photon pairs is dominated by a two-photon bound state.

    • Ofer Firstenberg
    • Thibault Peyronel
    • Vladan Vuletić
  • Letter |

    Bound states of elementary spin waves (magnons) have been predicted to occur in one-dimensional quantum magnets; the observation of two-magnon bound states in a system of ultracold bosonic atoms in an optical lattice is now reported.

    • Takeshi Fukuhara
    • Peter Schauß
    • Christian Gross
  • Letter |

    The enhanced reversibility (stable transition temperature even at high strain under a solid-to-solid phase transition), low hysteresis and unusual riverine microstructure (ranging through thermal cycles) of the martensitic material Zn45Au30Cu25 makes it attractive for applications from eco-friendly fridges to medical sensors.

    • Yintao Song
    • Xian Chen
    • Richard D. James
  • Letter |

    An estimate of the mass balance components for all ice shelves in Antarctica indicates that about half of the ice-sheet surface mass gain is lost through oceanic erosion before reaching the ice front, and that the loss due to iceberg calving is about 34 per cent less than previously thought.

    • M. A. Depoorter
    • J. L. Bamber
    • G. Moholdt
  • Letter |

    Wild Soay sheep rams with large horns have more offspring, yet there is considerable genetic variation at RXFP2, a locus strongly implicated in horn size (with different alleles conferring either large or small horns); this study finds that although the larger horn allele leads to more offspring, the smaller horn allele leads to increased survival, meaning heterozygous rams (which develop medium-sized horns) have high reproductive success and survival, providing a rare example of heterozygote advantage.

    • Susan E. Johnston
    • Jacob Gratten
    • Jon Slate
  • Letter |

    Antibiotic treatment disturbs the commensal microbiota and is often followed by infection with enteric pathogens such as Salmonella typhimurium and Clostridium difficile; pathogen expansion is fuelled by antibiotic-driven accumulation of commensal-liberated host mucosal carbohydrates.

    • Katharine M. Ng
    • Jessica A. Ferreyra
    • Justin L. Sonnenburg
  • Letter |

    Cellular immune responses in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) vaccinated with cytomegalovirus vectors expressing SIV proteins are able to stringently control highly pathogenic SIV infection, regardless of the route of challenge, after systemic spread; immunological and virological analyses of protected macaques followed for up to 3 years suggest that persistent immune surveillance by vaccine-elicited immune responses may have cleared the infection.

    • Scott G. Hansen
    • Michael Piatak Jr
    • Louis J. Picker
  • Letter |

    A transmembrane O-glycoprotein podoplanin (PDPN) expressed on fibroblastic reticular cells is the activating ligand for platelet receptor CLEC-2; this interaction leads to perivenular release of sphingosine-1-phosphate and expression of VE-cadherin on high endothelial venules, a key process for the maintenance of vascular integrity in lymph nodes.

    • Brett H. Herzog
    • Jianxin Fu
    • Lijun Xia
  • Letter |

    Glutamate transporters are integral membrane proteins that facilitate neurotransmitter uptake from the synaptic cleft into the cytoplasm of glial cells and neurons, the mechanism of transport involves transitions between extracellular- and intracellular-facing conformations; here the authors used single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer imaging to directly observe conformational dynamics in trimers of a bacterial homologue of glutamate transporters that was embedded in the membrane.

    • Guus B. Erkens
    • Inga Hänelt
    • Antoine M. van Oijen
  • Letter |

    This study shows the structural and biochemical characterization of a new type of polyketide synthase module that catalyses the vinylogous addition of a malonyl unit to an unsaturated thioester, generating a branch in the growing polyketide chain; this characterization provides a mechanism by which the structural diversity of polyketide natural products can be increased.

    • Tom Bretschneider
    • Joel B. Heim
    • Christian Hertweck



  • Q&A |

    Physicist turned microbiologist advances his career with a do-it-yourself approach.

    • Virginia Gewin

Career Brief

  • Career Brief |

    Study shows that publishing during PhD correlates with later research success.

  • Career Brief |

    Analysis reveals that journal papers often contain erroneous or incomplete data.

  • Career Brief |

    US medical-sciences research gets lion's share of business support.


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