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Volume 571 Issue 7763, 4 July 2019

The worm-wide web

Knowing how the components of a nervous system are connected together is crucial for understanding how that system works. In this week’s issue, Scott Emmons and his colleagues present complete wiring diagrams for both sexes of the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans. These neural maps, or connectomes, which update an influential 1986 publication, were built up from both new and previously published electron micrographs and encompass all connections in the nematode from sensory input to end-organ output. The maps have allowed the researchers to determine the location of each synapse and to assign an indirect measure of the strength of each connection based on the physical size of its constituent synapses. The team was also able to make direct comparisons between the two sexes, and estimate that some 30% of the connections may be substantially different in strength between the male and the hermaphrodite. The two connectomes should help to identify the neural circuits responsible for the nematode worm’s behaviour.

Cover image: Steve Gschmeissner/SPL

This Week

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News in Focus

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  • Caught in a trap.

    • Kurt Pankau
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  • News & Views

    • A process called singlet fission has the potential to enhance the efficiency of solar cells. The mechanism has been difficult to implement in such devices, but experiments demonstrate a way forward.

      • Joseph M. Luther
      • Justin C. Johnson
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    • Metastasis, the migration of tumour cells from their primary site, is associated with poor prognosis. A molecule made during cell metabolism limits metastasis, revealing that this metabolite restrains cancer progression.

      • Lydia W. S. Finley
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    • Understanding how the brain’s functions emerge from the workings of neural circuits is a central pursuit of neuroscience. New wiring diagrams of the nervous system in both sexes of a worm mark important progress.

      • Douglas S. Portman
      News & Views
    • Computer algorithms can be used to analyse text to find semantic relationships between words without human input. This method has now been adopted to identify unreported properties of materials in scientific papers.

      • Olexandr Isayev
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    • A molecular dialogue between neurons and star-shaped cells called astrocytes in the striatum of the mouse brain leads to behavioural hyperactivity and inattentiveness that are reminiscent of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

      • Zhihua Gao
      • Hailan Hu
      News & Views
  • Articles

    • An interconnected network made of superconducting microwave resonators is created as a step towards quantum simulations of interacting particles in hyperbolic space.

      • Alicia J. Kollár
      • Mattias Fitzpatrick
      • Andrew A. Houck
    • An energy-dense hydraulic fluid is used to construct a synthetic circulatory system in a lionfish-like soft robot, enabling untethered movement for up to 36 hours.

      • Cameron A. Aubin
      • Snehashis Choudhury
      • Robert F. Shepherd
    • Analyses of insect eggs as well as genetic and life-history traits of insects show that where eggs are laid, rather than universal allometric constants, developmental rate or adult body size, underlies size and shape evolution.

      • Samuel H. Church
      • Seth Donoughe
      • Cassandra G. Extavour
    • Quantitative connectivity matrices (or connectomes) for both adult sexes of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans are presented that encompass all connections from sensory input to end-organ output across the entire animal.

      • Steven J. Cook
      • Travis A. Jarrell
      • Scott W. Emmons
  • Letters

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Amendments & Corrections

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