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Volume 585 Issue 7826, 24 September 2020

Point of no return

More than half of Earth’s freshwater resources are held frozen in the Antarctic Ice Sheet, making the ice sheet’s long-term stability crucial to limiting global sea-level rise. In this week’s issue, Ricarda Winkelmann and her colleagues present model results that reveal how vulnerable the ice sheet is to climate change. The researchers show that as Earth’s climate becomes warmer, the ice sheet becomes progressively more sensitive to a given amount of warming. Even more concerning is the fact that, if warming levels persist, to restore the ice sheet to its current form would require more than just a reversion in temperature to the present-day level, it needs a cooling to lower than pre-industrial levels. The results suggest that, if the limits on warming set out in the Paris Agreement are not met, Antarctica’s long-term contribution to sea levels will dramatically increase and will be close to impossible to reverse.

Cover image: Torsten Albrecht (PIK).

This Week

News in Focus

Books & Arts



    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    How can the decline in global biodiversity be reversed, given the need to supply food? Computer modelling provides a way to assess the effectiveness of combining various conservation and food-system interventions to tackle this issue.

    • Brett A. Bryan
    • Carla L. Archibald
  • News & Views |

    Yeast has been engineered to convert simple sugars and amino acids into drugs that inhibit a neurotransmitter molecule. The work marks a step towards making the production of these drugs more reliable and sustainable.

    • José Montaño López
    • José L. Avalos
  • News & Views |

    Researchers have long sought materials in which light behaves the way electrons do in semiconductors. A workable approach for growing such materials in bulk now seems at hand, and could lead to advances in computing.

    • John C. Crocker
  • News & Views |

    Disease-causing microorganisms can invade plants through leaf pores called stomata, which close rapidly in a calcium-dependent manner on detecting such danger. The calcium channels involved have now finally been identified.

    • Keiko Yoshioka
    • Wolfgang Moeder
  • Reviews

  • Review Article |

    This Review describes the interplay between host genetics, host immunity and the gut microbiome in the modulation of colorectal cancer, and discusses the role of specific bacterial species and metabolites alongside technological advances that will facilitate more in-depth investigation of the microbiome in disease.

    • Alina Janney
    • Fiona Powrie
    • Elizabeth H. Mann
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Electrophysical processes are used to create third-order nanoscale circuit elements, and these are used to realize a transistorless network that can perform Boolean operations and find solutions to a computationally hard graph-partitioning problem.

    • Suhas Kumar
    • R. Stanley Williams
    • Ziwen Wang
  • Article |

    Self-assembly of cubic diamond crystals is demonstrated, by using precursor clusters of particles with carefully placed ‘sticky’ patches that attract and bind adjacent clusters in specific geometries.

    • Mingxin He
    • Johnathon P. Gales
    • David J. Pine
  • Article |

    Modelling shows that the Antarctic Ice Sheet exhibits multiple temperature thresholds beyond which ice loss would become irreversible, and once melted, the ice sheet can regain its previous mass only if the climate cools well below pre-industrial temperatures.

    • Julius Garbe
    • Torsten Albrecht
    • Ricarda Winkelmann
  • Article |

    To promote the recovery of the currently declining global trends in terrestrial biodiversity, increases in both the extent of land under conservation management and the sustainability of the global food system from farm to fork are required.

    • David Leclère
    • Michael Obersteiner
    • Lucy Young
  • Article |

    A tight coupling between metabolic rate, efficacy of oxygen supply and the temperature sensitivities of marine animals predicts a variety of geographical niches that better aligns with the distributions of species than models of either temperature or oxygen alone.

    • Curtis Deutsch
    • Justin L. Penn
    • Brad Seibel
  • Article |

    CRISPR–Cas9-mediated disruption of the endothelin-signalling pathway in the sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus and the frog Xenopus laevis were used to delineate ancient and lineage-specific roles of endothelin signalling and provide insights into vertebrate evolution.

    • Tyler A. Square
    • David Jandzik
    • Daniel M. Medeiros
  • Article |

    A study in Arabidopsis thaliana shows that the immune receptor-associated cytosolic kinase BIK1 phosphorylates OSCA1.3 and identifies OSCA1.3 as the pathogen-responsive Ca2+-permeable channel that regulates stomatal closure.

    • Kathrin Thor
    • Shushu Jiang
    • Cyril Zipfel
  • Article |

    Hydroxychloroquine did not confer protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection or reduce the viral load after infection in macaques; these findings do not support the use of hydroxychloroquine as an antiviral drug treatment of COVID-19 in humans.

    • Pauline Maisonnasse
    • Jérémie Guedj
    • Roger Le Grand
  • Article |

    A liver–brain–gut neural circuit responds to the gut microenvironment and regulates the activity of peripheral regulatory T cells in the colon by controlling intestinal antigen-presenting cells in a muscarinic signalling-dependent manner.

    • Toshiaki Teratani
    • Yohei Mikami
    • Takanori Kanai
  • Article |

    The cellular organelles peroxisomes contribute to the sensitivity of cells to ferroptosis by synthesizing polyunsaturated ether phospholipids, and changes in the abundances of these lipids are associated with altered sensitivity to ferroptosis during cell-state transitions.

    • Yilong Zou
    • Whitney S. Henry
    • Stuart L. Schreiber
  • Article |

    The PARP2–HPF1 histone-modifying complex bridges two nucleosomes to align broken DNA ends for ligation, initiating conformational changes that activate PARP2 and enable DNA damage repair.

    • Silvija Bilokapic
    • Marcin J. Suskiewicz
    • Mario Halic
  • Article |

    The alkaloid drugs hyoscyamine and scopolamine are synthesized from sugars and amino acids in yeast, using 26 genes from yeast, plants, bacteria and animals, protein engineering and a vacuole transporter to enable functional expression of a key acyltransferase.

    • Prashanth Srinivasan
    • Christina D. Smolke
  • Matters Arising

Amendments & Corrections


  • Nature Outlook |

    Precision oncology

    The aim of precision oncology is to develop treatments that target the molecular characteristics of an individual’s tumour. This tailored approach to cancer care could be transformative, but currently only a select few people with cancer are benefitting.

  • Career Guide |


    The Black Lives Matter movement encouraged many institutions to inspect their equity and diversity policies, and consider what else they could do to achieve equality in academia.

  • Nature Index |

    Science cities 2020

    Nature Index Science cities showcases the top 100 cities in the Nature Index and the stories of success behind the top 5, examining their strengths, challenges and paths ahead.

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