Canada's call ()

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News at a glance ()

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Rival giant telescopes join to seek U.S. funding ()

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China's ambitious brain science project inches forward ()

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German law allows use of DNA to predict suspects' looks ()

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B612 plans asteroid hunt with fleet of small satellites ()

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A call to arms against the other retrovirus ()

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Basic instincts ()

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The war on gluten ()

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Following the leader, for better or worse ()

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Enhancing energy transport in conjugated polymers ()

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Cold chemistry with two atoms ()

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Illuminating dark depths ()

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Cancer immunity thwarted by the microbiome ()

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The RNA face of phase separation ()

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Disparities in science literacy ()

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Our inheritance ()

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Truth with a vengeance ()

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Inventing Ourselves: The Secret Life of the Teenage Brain ()

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Brazil's government attacks biodiversity ()

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NextGen VOICES: Submit Now: Broad interests: Benefits for science ()

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The road to wild yak protection in China ()

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Trout in hot water: A call for global action ()

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Global health shifts to local experts with global partners ()

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AAAS extends science in theological education program ()

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Screeners needed for journalism awards ()

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Evolution of the brain ()

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Forcing the East Asian summer monsoon ()

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Tracking the spin-valley current ()

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Lighting the way to molecules, one by one ()

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Using bugs in the gut to detect blood ()

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A stimulating therapy for diabetes ()

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A faster way to detect Zika in mosquitoes ()

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Bile acids and liver cancer ()

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Follow the leader ()

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Transforming nitrogen without carbon ()

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Mapping the planarian transcriptome ()

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Reduction can make cobalt act precious ()

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Poking a semiconductor ()

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A longer exciton pathway ()

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RNA and membraneless organelles ()

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Killing without poking holes ()

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Multiple parasites speed host evolution ()

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More ITAMs for more potent receptors ()

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The roots of gray hair ()

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Aluminum's breakup with fluoroalkenes ()

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Better to transfer than transfuse? ()

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How hosts can defeat selfish elements ()

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How drinking (alcohol) affects drinking (water) ()

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Something from nothing ()

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Simulating the future of our Universe ()

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A 550,000-year record of East Asian monsoon rainfall from 10Be in loess ()
Cosmogenic 10Be flux from the atmosphere is a proxy for rainfall. Using this proxy, we derived a 550,000-year-long record of East Asian summer monsoon (EASM) rainfall from Chinese loess. This record is forced at orbital precession frequencies, with higher rainfall observed during Northern Hemisphere summer insolation maxima, although this response is damped during cold interstadials. The 10Be monsoon rainfall proxy is also highly correlated with global ice-volume variations, which differs from Chinese cave 18O, which is only weakly correlated. We argue that both EASM intensity and Chinese cave 18O are not governed by high-northern-latitude insolation, as suggested by others, but rather by low-latitude interhemispheric insolation gradients, which may also strongly influence global ice volume via monsoon dynamics.
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Evolution of pallium, hippocampus, and cortical cell types revealed by single-cell transcriptomics in reptiles ()
Computations in the mammalian cortex are carried out by glutamatergic and -aminobutyric acid–releasing (GABAergic) neurons forming specialized circuits and areas. Here we asked how these neurons and areas evolved in amniotes. We built a gene expression atlas of the pallium of two reptilian species using large-scale single-cell messenger RNA sequencing. The transcriptomic signature of glutamatergic neurons in reptilian cortex suggests that mammalian neocortical layers are made of new cell types generated by diversification of ancestral gene-regulatory programs. By contrast, the diversity of reptilian cortical GABAergic neurons indicates that the interneuron classes known in mammals already existed in the common ancestor of all amniotes.
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Cobalt-catalyzed asymmetric hydrogenation of enamides enabled by single-electron reduction ()
Identifying catalyst activation modes that exploit one-electron chemistry and overcome associated deactivation pathways will be transformative for developing first-row transition metal catalysts with performance equal or, ideally, superior to precious metals. Here we describe a zinc-activation method compatible with high-throughput reaction discovery that identified scores of cobalt-phosphine combinations for the asymmetric hydrogenation of functionalized alkenes. An optimized catalyst prepared from (R,R)-Ph-BPE {Ph-BPE, 1,2-bis[(2R,5R)-2,5-diphenylphospholano]ethane} and cobalt chloride [CoCl2·6H2O] exhibited high activity and enantioselectivity in protic media and enabled the asymmetric synthesis of the epilepsy medication levetiracetam at 200-gram scale with 0.08 mole % catalyst loading. Stoichiometric studies established that the cobalt (II) catalyst precursor (R,R)-Ph-BPECoCl2 underwent ligand displacement by methanol, and zinc promoted facile one-electron reduction to cobalt (I), which more stably bound the phosphine.
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Imaging of pure spin-valley diffusion current in WS2-WSe2 heterostructures ()
Transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) materials are promising for spintronic and valleytronic applications because valley-polarized excitations can be generated and manipulated with circularly polarized photons and the valley and spin degrees of freedom are locked by strong spin-orbital interactions. In this study we demonstrate efficient generation of a pure and locked spin-valley diffusion current in tungsten disulfide (WS2)–tungsten diselenide (WSe2) heterostructures without any driving electric field. We imaged the propagation of valley current in real time and space by pump-probe spectroscopy. The valley current in the heterostructures can live for more than 20 microseconds and propagate over 20 micrometers; both the lifetime and the diffusion length can be controlled through electrostatic gating. The high-efficiency and electric-field–free generation of a locked spin-valley current in TMDC heterostructures holds promise for applications in spin and valley devices.
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Long-range exciton transport in conjugated polymer nanofibers prepared by seeded growth ()
Easily processed materials with the ability to transport excitons over length scales of more than 100 nanometers are highly desirable for a range of light-harvesting and optoelectronic devices. We describe the preparation of organic semiconducting nanofibers comprising a crystalline poly(di-n-hexylfluorene) core and a solvated, segmented corona consisting of polyethylene glycol in the center and polythiophene at the ends. These nanofibers exhibit exciton transfer from the core to the lower-energy polythiophene coronas in the end blocks, which occurs in the direction of the interchain - stacking with very long diffusion lengths (>200 nanometers) and a large diffusion coefficient (0.5 square centimeters per second). This is made possible by the uniform exciton energetic landscape created by the well-ordered, crystalline nanofiber core.
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Building one molecule from a reservoir of two atoms ()
Chemical reactions typically proceed via stochastic encounters between reactants. Going beyond this paradigm, we combined exactly two atoms in a single, controlled reaction. The experimental apparatus traps two individual laser-cooled atoms [one sodium (Na) and one cesium (Cs)] in separate optical tweezers and then merges them into one optical dipole trap. Subsequently, photoassociation forms an excited-state NaCs molecule. The discovery of previously unseen resonances near the molecular dissociation threshold and measurement of collision rates are enabled by the tightly trapped ultracold sample of atoms. As laser-cooling and trapping capabilities are extended to more elements, the technique will enable the study of more diverse, and eventually more complex, molecules in an isolated environment, as well as synthesis of designer molecules for qubits.
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Flexo-photovoltaic effect ()
It is highly desirable to discover photovoltaic mechanisms that enable enhanced efficiency of solar cells. Here we report that the bulk photovoltaic effect, which is free from the thermodynamic Shockley-Queisser limit but usually manifested only in noncentrosymmetric (piezoelectric or ferroelectric) materials, can be realized in any semiconductor, including silicon, by mediation of flexoelectric effect. We used either an atomic force microscope or a micrometer-scale indentation system to introduce strain gradients, thus creating very large photovoltaic currents from centrosymmetric single crystals of strontium titanate, titanium dioxide, and silicon. This strain gradient–induced bulk photovoltaic effect, which we call the flexo-photovoltaic effect, functions in the absence of a p-n junction. This finding may extend present solar cell technologies by boosting the solar energy conversion efficiency from a wide pool of established semiconductors.
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High parasite diversity accelerates host adaptation and diversification ()
Host-parasite species pairs are known to coevolve, but how multiple parasites coevolve with their host is unclear. By using experimental coevolution of a host bacterium and its viral parasites, we revealed that diverse parasite communities accelerated host evolution and altered coevolutionary dynamics to enhance host resistance and decrease parasite infectivity. Increases in parasite diversity drove shifts in the mode of selection from fluctuating (Red Queen) dynamics to predominately directional (arms race) dynamics. Arms race dynamics were characterized by selective sweeps of generalist resistance mutations in the genes for the host bacterium’s cell surface lipopolysaccharide (a bacteriophage receptor), which caused faster molecular evolution within host populations and greater genetic divergence among populations. These results indicate that exposure to multiple parasites influences the rate and type of host-parasite coevolution.
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From local collective behavior to global migratory patterns in white storks ()
Soaring migrant birds exploit columns of rising air (thermals) to cover large distances with minimal energy. Using social information while locating thermals may benefit such birds, but examining collective movements in wild migrants has been a major challenge for researchers. We investigated the group movements of a flock of 27 naturally migrating juvenile white storks by using high-resolution GPS and accelerometers. Analyzing individual and group movements on multiple scales revealed that a small number of leaders navigated to and explored thermals, whereas followers benefited from their movements. Despite this benefit, followers often left thermals earlier and at lower height, and consequently they had to flap considerably more. Followers also migrated less far annually than did leaders. We provide insights into the interactions between freely flying social migrants and the costs and benefits of collective movement in natural populations.
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An ingestible bacterial-electronic system to monitor gastrointestinal health ()
Biomolecular monitoring in the gastrointestinal tract could offer rapid, precise disease detection and management but is impeded by access to the remote and complex environment. Here, we present an ingestible micro-bio-electronic device (IMBED) for in situ biomolecular detection based on environmentally resilient biosensor bacteria and miniaturized luminescence readout electronics that wirelessly communicate with an external device. As a proof of concept, we engineer heme-sensitive probiotic biosensors and demonstrate accurate diagnosis of gastrointestinal bleeding in swine. Additionally, we integrate alternative biosensors to demonstrate modularity and extensibility of the detection platform. IMBEDs enable new opportunities for gastrointestinal biomarker discovery and could transform the management and diagnosis of gastrointestinal disease.
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RNA buffers the phase separation behavior of prion-like RNA binding proteins ()
Prion-like RNA binding proteins (RBPs) such as TDP43 and FUS are largely soluble in the nucleus but form solid pathological aggregates when mislocalized to the cytoplasm. What keeps these proteins soluble in the nucleus and promotes aggregation in the cytoplasm is still unknown. We report here that RNA critically regulates the phase behavior of prion-like RBPs. Low RNA/protein ratios promote phase separation into liquid droplets, whereas high ratios prevent droplet formation in vitro. Reduction of nuclear RNA levels or genetic ablation of RNA binding causes excessive phase separation and the formation of cytotoxic solid-like assemblies in cells. We propose that the nucleus is a buffered system in which high RNA concentrations keep RBPs soluble. Changes in RNA levels or RNA binding abilities of RBPs cause aberrant phase transitions.
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mRNA structure determines specificity of a polyQ-driven phase separation ()
RNA promotes liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) to build membraneless compartments in cells. How distinct molecular compositions are established and maintained in these liquid compartments is unknown. Here, we report that secondary structure allows messenger RNAs (mRNAs) to self-associate and determines whether an mRNA is recruited to or excluded from liquid compartments. The polyQ-protein Whi3 induces conformational changes in RNA structure and generates distinct molecular fluctuations depending on the RNA sequence. These data support a model in which structure-based, RNA-RNA interactions promote assembly of distinct droplets and protein-driven, conformational dynamics of the RNA maintain this identity. Thus, the shape of RNA can promote the formation and coexistence of the diverse array of RNA-rich liquid compartments found in a single cell.
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New Products ()

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What I learned from teaching ()

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Cell type atlas and lineage tree of a whole complex animal by single-cell transcriptomics ()
Flatworms of the species Schmidtea mediterranea are immortal—adult animals contain a large pool of pluripotent stem cells that continuously differentiate into all adult cell types. Therefore, single-cell transcriptome profiling of adult animals should reveal mature and progenitor cells. By combining perturbation experiments, gene expression analysis, a computational method that predicts future cell states from transcriptional changes, and a lineage reconstruction method, we placed all major cell types onto a single lineage tree that connects all cells to a single stem cell compartment. We characterized gene expression changes during differentiation and discovered cell types important for regeneration. Our results demonstrate the importance of single-cell transcriptome analysis for mapping and reconstructing fundamental processes of developmental and regenerative biology at high resolution.
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Cell type transcriptome atlas for the planarian Schmidtea mediterranea ()
The transcriptome of a cell dictates its unique cell type biology. We used single-cell RNA sequencing to determine the transcriptomes for essentially every cell type of a complete animal: the regenerative planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. Planarians contain a diverse array of cell types, possess lineage progenitors for differentiated cells (including pluripotent stem cells), and constitutively express positional information, making them ideal for this undertaking. We generated data for 66,783 cells, defining transcriptomes for known and many previously unknown planarian cell types and for putative transition states between stem and differentiated cells. We also uncovered regionally expressed genes in muscle, which harbors positional information. Identifying the transcriptomes for potentially all cell types for many organisms should be readily attainable and represents a powerful approach to metazoan biology.
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Comment on "Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale" ()
LaManna et al. (Reports, 30 June 2017, p. 1389) claim that subadult trees are proportionally less common at high conspecific adult density (CNDD) and that this effect increases toward the tropics and for rare species. We show that the CNDD-abundance correlation may have arisen from a methodological artifact and that a range of processes can explain the reported latitudinal pattern.
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Response to Comment on "Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale" ()
Hülsmann and Hartig suggest that ecological mechanisms other than specialized natural enemies or intraspecific competition contribute to our estimates of conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD). To address their concern, we show that our results are not the result of a methodological artifact and present a null-model analysis that demonstrates that our original findings—(i) stronger CNDD at tropical relative to temperate latitudes and (ii) a latitudinal shift in the relationship between CNDD and species abundance—persist even after controlling for other processes that might influence spatial relationships between adults and recruits.
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Comment on "Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale" ()
LaManna et al. (Reports, 30 June 2017, p. 1389) found higher conspecific negative density dependence in tree communities at lower latitudes, yielding a possible mechanistic explanation for the latitudinal diversity gradient. We show that their results are artifacts of a selective data transformation and a forced zero intercept in their fitted model. A corrected analysis shows no latitudinal trend.
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Response to Comment on "Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale" ()
Chisholm and Fung claim that our method of estimating conspecific negative density dependence (CNDD) in recruitment is systematically biased, and present an alternative method that shows no latitudinal pattern in CNDD. We demonstrate that their approach produces strongly biased estimates of CNDD, explaining why they do not detect a latitudinal pattern. We also address their methodological concerns using an alternative distance-weighted approach, which supports our original findings of a latitudinal gradient in CNDD and a latitudinal shift in the relationship between CNDD and species abundance.
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Gut microbiome-mediated bile acid metabolism regulates liver cancer via NKT cells ()
Primary liver tumors and liver metastasis currently represent the leading cause of cancer-related death. Commensal bacteria are important regulators of antitumor immunity, and although the liver is exposed to gut bacteria, their role in antitumor surveillance of liver tumors is poorly understood. We found that altering commensal gut bacteria in mice induced a liver-selective antitumor effect, with an increase of hepatic CXCR6+ natural killer T (NKT) cells and heightened interferon- production upon antigen stimulation. In vivo functional studies showed that NKT cells mediated liver-selective tumor inhibition. NKT cell accumulation was regulated by CXCL16 expression of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells, which was controlled by gut microbiome-mediated primary-to-secondary bile acid conversion. Our study suggests a link between gut bacteria–controlled bile acid metabolism and liver antitumor immunosurveillance.
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Beyond fossil fuel-driven nitrogen transformations ()
Nitrogen is fundamental to all of life and many industrial processes. The interchange of nitrogen oxidation states in the industrial production of ammonia, nitric acid, and other commodity chemicals is largely powered by fossil fuels. A key goal of contemporary research in the field of nitrogen chemistry is to minimize the use of fossil fuels by developing more efficient heterogeneous, homogeneous, photo-, and electrocatalytic processes or by adapting the enzymatic processes underlying the natural nitrogen cycle. These approaches, as well as the challenges involved, are discussed in this Review.
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