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Volume 542 Issue 7641, 16 February 2017

The cover shows women threshing quinoa in Perus highlands. In this issue, Mark Tester and colleagues report a reference genome for quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), a highly nutritious crop that can grow under a wide range of environmental conditions. Long-read sequencing combined with optical, chromosome-contact and genetic maps was used to generate the allotetraploid genome. The authors also sequenced the genomes of additional diploid and tetraploid Chenopodium species, characterizing genetic diversity and the evolution of sub-genomes in the crop. In the process, Tester and colleagues identified a transcription factor that regulates the biosynthesis of bitter-tasting saponins in quinoa, as well as markers that might be used to develop sweet commercial varieties. Cover image: Lynn Johnson/National Geographic Creative.


World View

  • World View |

    As people in other nations watch the UK prepare to sever ties, Herman Goossens urges more scientists to stress what the EU does for them.

    • Herman Goossens

Research Highlights

Seven Days



News Feature


  • Comment |

    A newly unearthed article by the great politician reveals that he reasoned like a scientist about the likelihood of extraterrestrials, writes Mario Livio.

    • Mario Livio


Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

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

    • Barbara Kiser
  • Books & Arts |

    Roger Kneebone explores how lacemakers, glass artists and percussionists are sharing skills with researchers.

    • Roger Kneebone



  • Obituary |

    A pioneering cancer biologist and Renaissance man.

    • Ingemar Ernberg
    • Klas Kärre
    • Hans Wigzell

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    During the last ice age, huge numbers of icebergs were episodically discharged from an ice sheet that covered North America. Numerical modelling suggests that these events resulted from a conceptually simple feedback cycle. See Letter p.332

    • Andreas Vieli
  • News & Views |

    The enzyme S6K1 phosphorylates the enzyme glutamyl-prolyl tRNA synthetase to modulate metabolic activity and lifespan, revealing an atypical role for this synthetase as a target of a key metabolic signalling pathway. See Letter p.357

    • Colin Selman
    • Dominic J. Withers
  • News & Views |

    Technological advances have allowed scientists to sequence the complex quinoa genome. This highlights the ongoing expansion of genomics beyond major crops to other plants that have relevance for global food security. See Article p.307

    • Andrew H. Paterson
    • Alan L. Kolata
  • News & Views |

    One effect of weight-loss surgery is a change in food preferences. An analysis in rats shows that this is caused by altered nutrient signals in the intestine. These activate the vagus nerve to increase signalling in the brain by the neurotransmitter dopamine.

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

    Oxygen is essential to most life in the ocean. An analysis shows that oxygen levels have declined by 2% in the global ocean over the past five decades, probably causing habitat loss for many fish and invertebrate species. See Letter p.335

    • Denis Gilbert
  • News & Views |

    An analysis of more than 2,000 species of bird provides insight into how the animals' diverse beak shapes evolved, and points to a single rare event as a trigger for the rapid initial divergence of avian lineages. See Letter p.344

    • Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar






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