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Volume 584 Issue 7820, 13 August 2020

Ground control

As the climate warms it will destabilize organic matter in soils, causing an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide that they release into the atmosphere. For forests in temperate regions, four degrees of soil warming for two years increased CO2 emissions by around one-third, but tropical soils were expected to be less sensitive to warming. In this week’s issue, Andrew Nottingham and his colleagues present the results of a soil-warming experiment that challenge this assumption. The researchers conducted a warming experiment on lowland tropical forest soil on Barro Colorado Island in Panama (pictured on the cover). Two years of warming to raise the soil temperature by 4 °C resulted in an unexpectedly large increase in CO2 emissions of 55%. These results suggest that tropical soils are highly sensitive to warming and could present a substantial positive feedback to climate change.

Cover image: Christian Ziegler.

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    • Molecules have previously been made that induce protein destruction inside cells. A new class of molecule now induces the degradation of membrane and extracellular proteins — opening up avenues for drug discovery.

      • Claire Whitworth
      • Alessio Ciulli
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    • Does the loss of species through habitat decline follow the same pattern whether the area lost is part of a large or a small habitat? An analysis sheds light on this long-running debate, with its implications for conservation strategies.

      • Joaquín Hortal
      • Ana M. C. Santos
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    • Stretching the skin of mice reveals that mechanical strain is communicated by a subpopulation of stem cells that proliferate and promote mechanical resistance, and so generate extra skin.

      • Matthias Rübsam
      • Carien M. Niessen
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    • Plots of tropical forest soils were warmed by 4 °C for two years to observe the effects on soil carbon emissions. The increase in efflux of carbon dioxide was larger than expected — a result with worrying implications for climate change.

      • Eric A. Davidson
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  • Articles

    • A strongly lensed galaxy at redshift 4.2 appears to be a dynamically cold disk galaxy, similar to spiral galaxies in the local neighbourhood and weakly affected by extreme physical processes.

      • F. Rizzo
      • S. Vegetti
      • S. D. M. White
      Article
    • A qubit generated and stabilized in a superconducting microwave resonator by encoding it into Schrödinger cat states produced by Kerr nonlinearity and single-mode squeezing shows intrinsic robustness to phase-flip errors.

      • A. Grimm
      • N. E. Frattini
      • M. H. Devoret
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    • An iron complex sequentially activates N2 and C–H bonds in benzene to form aniline, with coupling achieved through partial silylation of a reduced iron–nitrogen complex and phenyl migration.

      • Sean F. McWilliams
      • Daniël L. J. Broere
      • Patrick L. Holland
      Article
    • Analysis of 123 studies of assemblage-level abundances of focal taxa from fragmented habitats finds that increasing fragmentation has a disproportionately large effect on biodiversity loss, supporting the ecosystem decay hypothesis.

      • Jonathan M. Chase
      • Shane A. Blowes
      • Felix May
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    • An autism-associated mutation in Nlgn3 results in impaired oxytocin signalling in dopaminergic neurons and altered social behavioural responses in mice, and treatment with an inhibitor of MAP kinase-interacting kinases rescues these phenotypes.

      • Hanna Hörnberg
      • Enrique Pérez-Garci
      • Peter Scheiffele
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    • Analyses of COVID-19 infection rates show that non-pharmaceutical interventions achieved large, beneficial and measurable health outcomes in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States; these results may inform decisions on whether or when these interventions should be deployed, intensified or lifted.

      • Solomon Hsiang
      • Daniel Allen
      • Tiffany Wu
      Article
    • Single-cell analysis in a mouse model of skin stretching shows that stretching causes a transient expansion bias in a population of epidermal stem cells, which is associated with chromatin remodelling and changes in transcriptional profiles.

      • Mariaceleste Aragona
      • Alejandro Sifrim
      • Cédric Blanpain
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    • A mouse model of systemic versus mucosal exposure to microbial taxa reveals that the former provokes a flexible B cell response with a diverse immunoglobulin repertoire, whereas the latter generates a more-restricted response.

      • Hai Li
      • Julien P. Limenitakis
      • Andrew J. Macpherson
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    • During the activation of mouse macrophages by lipopolysaccharides, histone deacetylase 3 controls inflammatory responses by both repressing and activating gene transcription depending on its differential association with transcription factors.

      • Hoang C. B. Nguyen
      • Marine Adlanmerini
      • Mitchell A. Lazar
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    • Lysosome-targeting chimaeras—in which a small molecule or antibody is connected to a glycopeptide ligand to form a conjugate that can bind a cell-surface lysosome-shuttling receptor and a protein target—are used to achieve the targeted degradation of extracellular and membrane proteins.

      • Steven M. Banik
      • Kayvon Pedram
      • Carolyn R. Bertozzi
      Article
    • Cryo-electron microscopy structures of apo, agonist- and positive allosteric modulator-bound forms of the GB1–GB2 heterodimer of the metabotropic γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor shed light on the activation mechanism of this receptor.

      • Hamidreza Shaye
      • Andrii Ishchenko
      • Vadim Cherezov
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    • The structure of the GABAB receptor in an inactive state reveals, amongst other features, a latch between the two subunits that locks the transmembrane domain interface, and the presence of large phospholipids that may modulate receptor function.

      • Jinseo Park
      • Ziao Fu
      • Qing R. Fan
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    • Cryo-electron microscopy structures of heterodimeric and homodimeric full-length GABAB receptors, combined with cellular signalling assays, shed light on the mechanisms that underpin signal transduction mediated by these receptors.

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      • Michael J. Robertson
      • Georgios Skiniotis
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