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Volume 621 Issue 7977, 7 September 2023

Feeling the heat

The cover shows a thermal image of leaf temperature in an Australian tropical forest. In this week’s issue, Christopher Doughty and his colleagues reveal that a small percentage of leaves in tropical forest tree canopies might be approaching a critical temperature of 46.7 °C, above which photosynthesis begins to fail. The researchers estimated peak temperatures for tree canopies using high-resolution thermal measurements taken by the International Space Station over the Amazon, Congo Basin and southeast Asia. They found that during dry periods, canopy temperatures averaged around 34 °C, but that some can exceed 40 °C. Crucially, upper-canopy leaves exceeded the critical temperature 0.01% of the time; and in experiments that artificially warmed the upper canopies this rose to 1.3% of the time. Combined with ground-based observational and experimental data, the team estimates that large-scale leaf death and loss might begin to happen if warming exceeds 3.9 °C; the worst-case scenario for climate-change projections currently suggests air temperature would rise by 4 °C.

Cover image: Kali Middleby (James Cook University)

This Week

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News in Focus

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Books & Arts

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  • News & Views

    • Pulsatile driving of pipe flow that imitates waveforms measured in the human aorta has been shown to suppress turbulence and increase the energy efficiency of the transport of fluids in pipes.

      • Angela Busse
      News & Views
    • Tidal marshes, mangroves and coral reefs support the livelihoods of millions of people. Most of these ecosystems will be vulnerable to submergence owing to rapid sea-level rise if global warming exceeds 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

      • Qiang He
      News & Views
    • It is well established that proteins in the TRP family of ion channels assemble from four subunits. But do they always do this? A five-subunit structure has now been observed, and might be involved in channel regulation.

      • Ute A. Hellmich
      News & Views
    • The interaction of a molecule with a specific surface has been shown to produce consistent unidirectional motion driven by voltage pulses. The mechanism can even facilitate the transport of molecular cargo.

      • Leo Gross
      • Jascha Repp
      News & Views
  • Articles

    • Images and spectroscopy obtained by the JWST from two HSC-SSP quasars show massive, compact and disc-like galaxies, indicating that the relation between black holes and their host galaxies was in place less than a billion years after the Big Bang.

      • Xuheng Ding
      • Masafusa Onoue
      • Jinyi Yang
    • JWST observations of CH3+ in a protoplanetary disk in the Orion star-forming region are reported showing that gas-phase organic chemistry in the interstellar medium is activated by ultraviolet irradiation and the methyl cation.

      • Olivier Berné
      • Marie-Aline Martin-Drumel
      • Mark G. Wolfire
    • Proximity-induced superconductivity on a single spin-degenerate quantum level of a surface state confined in a quantum corral on a superconducting substrate built atom by atom by a scanning tunnelling microscope is investigated.

      • Lucas Schneider
      • Khai That Ton
      • Jens Wiebe
      Article Open Access
    • Evidence is presented for a Pines’ demon as a three-dimensional acoustic plasmon in the multiband metal Sr2RuO4 from momentum-resolved electron energy-loss spectroscopy using a collimated, defocused beam with high momentum resolution.

      • Ali A. Husain
      • Edwin W. Huang
      • Peter Abbamonte
      Article Open Access
    • In situ liquid-cell electrochemical transmission electron microscopy allows the direct visualization of the transformation of lithium polysulfides over electrode surfaces at the atomic scale, leading to a new energy-storage mechanism in lithium–sulfur batteries.

      • Shiyuan Zhou
      • Jie Shi
      • Hong-Gang Liao
    • A global assessment shows that the wildland–urban interface occurs on all continents, showing its broad-scale patterns and providing a basis for future research on dynamics and socioeconomic and biophysical processes.

      • Franz Schug
      • Avi Bar-Massada
      • Volker C. Radeloff
      Article Open Access
    • Titanium isotope measurements for chondrites, ancient terrestrial mantle-derived lavas and modern ocean island basalts imply the preservation of a primordial lower-mantle reservoir for most of Earth’s geologic history.

      • Zhengbin Deng
      • Martin Schiller
      • Martin Bizzarro
      Article Open Access
    • Ground truthed thermal data from a new NASA satellite combined with experimental warming data from three continents in an empirical model suggests that tropical forests are closer to a high temperature threshold than previously thought.

      • Christopher E. Doughty
      • Jenna M. Keany
      • Joshua B. Fisher
    • Without mitigation, relative sea-level rises under current climate change projections will exceed the capacity of coastal habitats such as mangroves and tidal marshes to adjust, leading to instability and profound changes to coastal ecosystems.

      • Neil Saintilan
      • Benjamin Horton
      • Glenn Guntenspergen
      Article Open Access
    • Through leverage of whole-brain screening, in vivo calcium imaging and chemo- and optogenetic manipulations, it is demonstrated that the xiphoid nucleus serves as a key brain region in the promotion of cold-induced food-seeking behaviours.

      • Neeraj K. Lal
      • Phuong Le
      • Li Ye
      Article Open Access
    • Cryo-electron microscopy structures and biochemical analyses provide insight into how short prokaryotic Argonaute proteins are assembled and activated, and reveal that oligomerization has a key role in driving catalytic activity.

      • Zhangfei Shen
      • Xiao-Yuan Yang
      • Tian-Min Fu
    • Germ-free mice were colonized with complex defined communities to show T cell recognition of commensals is focused on widely conserved, highly expressed cell-surface antigens, opening the door to new therapeutic strategies.

      • Kazuki Nagashima
      • Aishan Zhao
      • Michael A. Fischbach
    • Triacylglycerols are an energy source produced in humans by DGAT1 and DGAT2, but disrupting these enzymes reveals a noncanonical pathway involving the protein DIESL (formerly TMEM68) and its regulator TMX1, which is important during lipid scarcity.

      • Gian-Luca McLelland
      • Marta Lopez-Osias
      • Thijn R. Brummelkamp
      Article Open Access
    • A study describes the metabolic adaptations supporting differentiation, survival and function of tissue-resident memory CD8+ T cells and how to leverage them to enhance immunity against pathogens and tumours.

      • Miguel Reina-Campos
      • Maximilian Heeg
      • Ananda W. Goldrath
    • Mice overexpressing Has2 from the naked mole-rat showed an increase in hyaluronan levels in several tissues, and a lower incidence of spontaneous and induced cancer, attenuated inflammation through several pathways, extended lifespan and improved healthspan.

      • Zhihui Zhang
      • Xiao Tian
      • Vera Gorbunova
    • High-speed atomic force microscopy single-molecule imaging and cryo-EM analysis discover and reveal the structure of a TRPV3 pentamer, providing evidence for a non-canonical pentameric TRP-channel assembly, laying the foundation for new directions in TRP channel research.

      • Shifra Lansky
      • John Michael Betancourt
      • Simon Scheuring
  • Matters Arising

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Amendments & Corrections

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Nature Index

  • A cornerstone of scientific activity in many countries, cancer research is producing game-changing work for universal gain.

    Nature Index
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