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Volume 530 Issue 7588, 4 February 2016

Bell heather (Erica cinerea) flowers with a resting silver-studded blue adult butterfly (Plebejus argus) in Shropshire, UK. There is widespread concern about recent declines in bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators. Declines in flowers have been suggested as a key cause, but the idea has not been fully tested until now. Mathilde Baude et al. provide a UK national-level assessment of a key resource on which pollinators depend — nectar. They determine the nectar value of most common British plants, and assess nectar production in 260 plant species, combining the data with historical vegetation surveys. The results show that total nectar resources declined in England and Wales between the 1930s and 1970s before stabilizing and then increased more recently, but the diversity of species providing the nectar kept declining for a further decade after that. By 2007, just four grassland plant species accounted for more than half of the national nectar provision. These trends mirror pollinator diversity, which declined in the mid-twentieth century but stabilized more recently. Small adjustments to the management cycle of improved grasslands, allowing white clover (the dominant resource species) to flower would increase nectar availability, although only a subset of pollinator species would benefit. Cover: Mark Sisson/ FLPA


  • Editorial |

    With birth defects blamed on the virus now deemed a matter of international concern, researchers must work fast to assess the extent of the threat.

  • Editorial |

    US policymakers must set aside their divisions and give climate research a much-needed boost.

World View

Research Highlights

Seven Days


News Feature


Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Thomas Schnalke extols the dual genius of pathology sculptor and abstract artist Adolf Fleischmann.

    • Thomas Schnalke
  • Books & Arts |

    Barbara Kiser reviews five of the week's best science picks.

    • Barbara Kiser


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The water-splitting reaction is a promising route to renewable energy. Catalytic hotspots, and the best sites for co-catalyst placement, have now been pinpointed in a water-splitting catalyst, guiding future catalyst design. See Letter p.77

    • Johan Hofkens
    • Maarten B. J. Roeffaers
  • News & Views |

    Plots of survival against time for nematode worms in different conditions can be superimposed by rescaling the time axis. This observation has far-reaching implications for our understanding of the nature of ageing. See Letter p.103

    • Zachary Pincus
  • News & Views |

    The native structure of the protein α-synuclein, which is implicated in Parkinson's disease, is controversial. In-cell nuclear magnetic resonance now shows that it remains disordered when loaded into living cells. See Article p.45

    • T. Reid Alderson
    • Ad Bax
  • News & Views |

    The response of electrons in atoms to ultrashort optical light pulses has been probed by measuring the ultraviolet light emitted by the atoms. This reveals that a finite time delay occurs before the response. See Letter p.66

    • Kyung Taec Kim
  • News & Views |

    Connective-tissue cells known as fibroblasts display an increasing spectrum of functions. Different fibroblast subtypes are now shown to either promote or suppress inflammation-associated intestinal cancers.

    • Erwin F. Wagner


  • Article |

    Atomic resolution in-cell NMR and EPR spectroscopy show that the human amyloid protein α-synuclein remains disordered within all mammalian cells tested, including neurons, and identifies which parts of the protein dynamically interact or remain shielded from the cytoplasm, thus counteracting aggregation under physiological cell conditions.

    • Francois-Xavier Theillet
    • Andres Binolfi
    • Philipp Selenko
  • Article |

    By examining viral sequences in lymphoid tissue from three HIV-1-infected individuals receiving drug therapy, the authors find phylogenetic evidence for ongoing virus replication, suggesting that the antiretroviral drug concentration in the lymphoid tissue is insufficient to fully suppress the virus; using a mathematical model, they further explain why drug resistance does not necessarily arise as a result.

    • Ramon Lorenzo-Redondo
    • Helen R. Fryer
    • Steven M. Wolinsky
  • Article |

    Genomic studies of the paediatric brain tumour medulloblastoma have revealed four clinically distinct molecular subgroups; here active gene regulatory elements in 28 primary medulloblastoma tissues are mapped to reveal differentially regulated enhancers across the different subgroups, allowing insights into the transcription factors that characterize subgroup divergence and the cellular origin of the poorly characterized Group 3 and 4 subgroups.

    • Charles Y. Lin
    • Serap Erkek
    • Paul A. Northcott


  • Letter |

    Electronic implants are often used in diagnosing and treating human illness, but permanent implants come with problems; here, devices are described that can sense temperature, pressure, pH or thermal characteristics, and—crucially—are fully resorbable by the body.

    • Seung-Kyun Kang
    • Rory K. J. Murphy
    • John A. Rogers
  • Letter |

    Using single-molecule fluorescence imaging of photoelectrocatalysis, the charge-carrier activities on single TiO2 nanorods and the corresponding water-oxidation photocurrent are mapped at high spatiotemporal resolution, revealing the best catalytic sites and the most effective sites for depositing an oxygen evolution catalyst.

    • Justin B. Sambur
    • Tai-Yen Chen
    • Peng Chen
  • Letter |

    Deformation experiments on lawsonite reveal that unstable fault slip occurs during dehydration reactions with continuous acoustic emission signals; this indicates the potential for unstable frictional sliding in natural lawsonite layers, which could possibly be the source of intermediate-depth earthquakes in cold subduction zones.

    • Keishi Okazaki
    • Greg Hirth
  • Letter |

    Robust phylogenetic analysis based on transcriptomes of Xenoturbella and acoelomorph worms shows that Xenacoelomorpha is an early bilaterian lineage forming the sister group to Nephrozoa.

    • Johanna Taylor Cannon
    • Bruno Cossermelli Vellutini
    • Andreas Hejnol
  • Letter |

    Lentivirus-based transgenic Macaca fascicularis monkeys are generated expressing the human MECP2 transgene in the brain, and they display behavioural alterations including changes in social interaction and increased anxiety; germline transmission of the transgene to the F1 offspring is shown, and these monkeys also had an altered social interaction phenotype.

    • Zhen Liu
    • Xiao Li
    • Zilong Qiu
  • Letter |

    A diverse range of molecular and genetic manipulations all alter lifespan distributions of Caenorhabditis elegans by an apparent stretching or shrinking of time.

    • Nicholas Stroustrup
    • Winston E. Anthony
    • Walter Fontana
  • Letter |

    An adeno-associated virus (AAV) receptor protein essential for AAV2 entry into cells is identified; AAV receptor binds directly to the virus, and its ablation renders a diverse range of mammalian cell types and mice resistant to infection by AAV of multiple serotypes.

    • S. Pillay
    • N. L. Meyer
    • J. E. Carette
  • Letter |

    Genome-wide binding profiles for eight different chromatin remodellers in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells are determined at single nucleosome resolution; each remodeller binds at specific nucleosome positions relative to the start of genes, and the same remodeller acts as a positive or negative regulator of transcription depending on the promoter chromatin organization and epigenetic marking of the gene it binds.

    • Maud de Dieuleveult
    • Kuangyu Yen
    • Matthieu Gérard



  • Q&A |

    Alice Allen discusses the volunteer-run Astrophysics Source Code Library.

    • Jeffrey Perkel





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