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Volume 595 Issue 7865, 1 July 2021

Cellular fluidics

Efficient systems for transporting fluids abound in the natural world, but they tend to be complex and problematic to replicate. In this week’s issue, Eric Duoss and his colleagues present a biologically inspired platform that joins together small cubes (or ‘unit cells’) to create 3D networks that can mimic some of the fluid transport systems found in nature. The researchers call their approach ‘cellular fluidics’ and they use 3D printing to create the millimetre-scale cubic cells that act as the building blocks for their networks. Liquid transport through the assembled systems is achieved by controlled capillary action. To demonstrate the system, the team assembled a tree-like structure that continuously moved liquid from a reservoir at the ‘roots’ up to the ‘branches’ where it was lost through evaporation, thereby mimicking transpiration. The cover further reimagines this transport process and shows an artist’s impression of bio-inspired vasculature based on cellular fluidics.

Cover image: Jacob Long

This Week

News in Focus




    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A technological platform has been developed in which millimetre-scale cubes are assembled into 3D structures that control capillary action — enabling programmable fluid flows and modelling of a range of fluidic processes.

    • Tammi L. van Neel
    • Ashleigh B. Theberge
  • News & Views |

    Understanding how diet affects gut microbes and thereby influences human health might lead to targeted dietary strategies. A clinical trial now provides some steps on the path towards this goal.

    • Avner Leshem
    • Eran Elinav
  • News & Views |

    A technique reveals how folded chromosomal DNA interacts in the nucleus, providing information at the level of single base pairs. The achievement offers an unprecedented level of detail about how gene activity is regulated.

    • Anne van Schoonhoven
    • Ralph Stadhouders
  • Articles

  • Article |

    Operating in space, NASA’s Deep Space Atomic Clock, a trapped-ion clock, is shown to have long-term stability and drift that are an order of magnitude better than current space clocks.

    • E. A. Burt
    • J. D. Prestage
    • T. A. Ely
  • Article |

    Cellular fluidics provides a platform of unit-cell-based, three-dimensional structures for the deterministic control of multiphase flow, transport and reaction processes.

    • Nikola A. Dudukovic
    • Erika J. Fong
    • Eric B. Duoss
  • Article |

    A revised date for the Laacher See eruption using measurements of subfossil trees shifts the chronology of European varved lakes relative to the Greenland ice core record, synchronizing the onset of the Younger Dryas across the North Atlantic–European sector.

    • Frederick Reinig
    • Lukas Wacker
    • Ulf Büntgen
  • Article |

    Thirty years of geothermal heat production at Coso in California depleted shear stresses within the geothermal reservoir, which changed its faulting style and inhibited aftershocks from the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake.

    • Kyungjae Im
    • Jean-Philippe Avouac
    • Derek Elsworth
  • Article |

    The hippocampus geometrically represents both physical location and abstract variables on a neural manifold in mice performing a decision-making task in virtual reality.

    • Edward H. Nieh
    • Manuel Schottdorf
    • David W. Tank
  • Article |

    Whole-genome sequencing of haematopoietic colonies from human fetuses reveals the somatic mutations acquired by individual progenitors, which are used as barcodes to construct a phylogenetic tree of blood development.

    • Michael Spencer Chapman
    • Anna Maria Ranzoni
    • Ana Cvejic
  • Article |

    Fibre snacks that target distinct features of the microbiomes of donors with obesity transplanted into gnotobiotic mice also lead to fibre-specific changes in the microbiome and physiology when used in controlled-diet human studies.

    • Omar Delannoy-Bruno
    • Chandani Desai
    • Jeffrey I. Gordon
  • Article |

    Systemic genome-led vaccinology and a mouse model of Trypanosoma vivax infection identify protective invariant subunit vaccine antigens, and demonstrate the possibility of generating effective vaccines that induce long-lasting protection against trypanosome infections.

    • Delphine Autheman
    • Cécile Crosnier
    • Gavin J. Wright
  • Article |

    Lung samples collected soon after death from COVID-19 are used to provide a single-cell atlas of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the ensuing molecular changes.

    • Johannes C. Melms
    • Jana Biermann
    • Benjamin Izar
  • Article |

    A proximity-dependent biotinylation technique defines the location of more than 4,000 proteins in a human cell, and almost 36,000 proximal interactions between proteins, including those at the interface of the mitochondria and ER.

    • Christopher D. Go
    • James D. R. Knight
    • Anne-Claude Gingras
  • Article |

    Micro Capture-C allows physical contacts to be determined at base-pair resolution, revealing that transcription factors have an important role in the maintenance of the contacts between enhancers and promoters.

    • Peng Hua
    • Mohsin Badat
    • James O. J. Davies
  • Article |

    Cryo-electron microscopy structures of PCFT in a substrate-free state and bound to the antifolate drug pemetrexed provide insights into how this protein recognizes folates and mediates their transport into cells.

    • Joanne L. Parker
    • Justin C. Deme
    • Simon Newstead

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Index

  • Nature Index |

    Materials science

    Researchers are rethinking the nature and potential of matter. From new metal mixes that form more efficient catalysts to bio-inspired super-black products, their work is driving advances in manufacturing, drug discovery and product design.

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