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Evolution: Parsing the cycles of change
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526036a
Author: Mark Buchanan
Mark Buchanan examines a treatise on evolution as central to processes in a vast, varied range of domains.
CRISPR-Cas immunity in prokaryotes
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature15386
Authors: Luciano A. Marraffini
Prokaryotic organisms are threatened by a large array of viruses and have developed numerous defence strategies. Among these, only clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas systems provide adaptive immunity against foreign elements. Upon viral injection, a small sequence of the viral genome, known as
Observed latitudinal variations in erosion as a function of glacier dynamics
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/nature15385
Authors: Michéle Koppes, Bernard Hallet, Eric Rignot, Jérémie Mouginot, Julia Smith Wellner & Katherine Boldt
Glacial erosion is fundamental to our understanding of the role of Cenozoic-era climate change in the development of topography worldwide, yet the factors that control the rate of erosion by ice remain poorly understood. In many tectonically active mountain ranges, glaciers have been inferred to be highly erosive, and conditions of glaciation are used to explain both the marked relief typical of alpine settings and the limit on mountain heights above the snowline, that is, the glacial buzzsaw. In other high-latitude regions, glacial erosion is presumed to be minimal, where a mantle of cold ice effectively protects landscapes from erosion. Glacial erosion rates are expected to increase with decreasing latitude, owing to the climatic control on basal temperature and the production of meltwater, which promotes glacial sliding, erosion and sediment transfer. This relationship between climate, glacier dynamics and erosion rate is the focus of recent numerical modelling, yet it is qualitative and lacks an empirical database. Here we present a comprehensive data set that permits explicit examination of the factors controlling glacier erosion across climatic regimes. We report contemporary ice fluxes, sliding speeds and erosion rates inferred from sediment yields from 15 outlet glaciers spanning 19 degrees of latitude from Patagonia to the Antarctic Peninsula. Although this broad region has a relatively uniform tectonic and geologic history, the thermal regimes of its glaciers range from temperate to polar. We find that basin-averaged erosion rates vary by three orders of magnitude over this latitudinal transect. Our findings imply that climate and the glacier thermal regime control erosion rates more than do extent of ice cover, ice flux or sliding speeds.
Science must prepare for impact
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/526007a
Author: Guy Poppy
To maintain public support, researchers need to be able to adapt to the rapidly changing needs of society and politicians, warns Guy Poppy.
Evolution: Bee tongues shrink as climate warms
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526008a
Bees in some parts of the US Rocky Mountains have evolved shorter tongues, probably in response to a decline in flower populations caused by climate change.Nicole Miller-Struttmann at SUNY College in Old Westbury, New York, and her co-workers studied bees at three alpine sites
Nanomaterials: Sunblock stays on skin surface
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526008b
Using nanoparticles to encapsulate the ultraviolet (UV) filters found in sunscreen might prevent them from being absorbed by the skin — and could even improve their UV-blocking performance.Some studies have shown that chemical UV filters have negative effects on cells when they penetrate skin.
Animal behaviour: Fish launches jaw to feed on land
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526008c
A species of fish has an unusual way of eating — it thrusts its jaw out and downwards to nab prey on land.Krijn Michel at the University of Antwerp in Belgium and his colleagues took high-speed video and made 3D reconstructions of the largescale
Climate change: Clean air puts Arctic ice in peril
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526008d
Cleaner air in the high north could reduce Arctic sea ice by an area of about one million square kilometres this century.Air pollution has a net cooling effect on the climate, and has partially offset the decline of Arctic sea ice since the mid-1970s.
Plant biology: CRISPR cripples plant viruses
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526008e
Plants that have been engineered to contain the CRISPR–Cas9 system are resistant to viral infections that reduce crop yields.The CRISPR system, first discovered in bacteria, uses certain RNA molecules as guides to recognize specific DNA sites in genomes that the Cas9 enzyme then cuts.
Microbiology: Diet makes gut change speed
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526009a
Interactions between diet and gut microbes affect how quickly food moves through the gut.To simulate dietary changes that occur when people travel to places with different cuisines, Jeffrey Gordon at Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, and his team took germ-free mice and transplanted
Ecology: Creatures are busy in the polar night
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526009b
The high Arctic is thought to be biologically quiescent during the long 'polar night' — the winter months when the Sun never rises. But Jørgen Berge at the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø and his colleagues have discovered a surprising level of biological activity.
Robotics: Robot moves when squished
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526009c
Soft elastic materials that buckle in a vacuum can generate robot motions.George Whitesides at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and his colleagues built soft actuators out of squishy cubes containing air pockets. They attached rigid components such as grippers or legs to the cubes
Cancer immunotherapy: Molecular switch controls therapy
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). doi:10.1038/526009d
A molecular 'remote control' could enable researchers to make a powerful cancer therapy safer.The therapy relies on engineered immune-system cells called T cells that recognize and kill tumours, and has shown promise in clinical trials. But the T cells can also attack and damage
The week in science: 25 September–1 October 2015
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/526010a
German minister accused of plagiarism; Indian satellite blasts off; and Arctic drilling plans shelved.
California agriculture weathers drought — at a cost
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/526014a
Author: Erika Check Hayden
El Niño might bring relief, but longer and deeper dry spells are predicted.
Brazilian science paralysed by economic slump
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/526016a
Author: Elizabeth Gibney
From unpaid electricity bills to delayed participation in a telescope project, funding cuts bite.
The future of cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin and beyond
Nature 526, 7571 (2015). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/526021a
Author: Andy Extance
The digital currency has caused any number of headaches for law enforcement. Now entrepreneurs and academics are scrambling to build a better version.