top ten research highlights

The following highlights are the top ten most viewed research highlights on the English website of during the past month.

22 April 2018 ~ 22 May 2018

  • Genetics: Genetic risk for leprosy in medieval Europeans

    Nature Communications, May 2, 2018

    A present-day genetic risk factor for leprosy was also associated with the disease in medieval Europeans, reports a paper published in Nature Communications this week. The study suggests that susceptibility to infection with Mycobacterium leprae (the bacterium responsible for leprosy) is, at least in part, mediated by the same genetic risk allele in populations living almost a thousand years a...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03857-x

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  • Environment: Sea ice transports microplastics across the Arctic

    Nature Communications, April 25, 2018

    Sea ice traps large amounts of microplastics and transports them across the Arctic Ocean according to a study in Nature Communications this week. This finding demonstrates that sea ice can act as a temporary sink for microplastics, and confirms that large amounts may be released into the ocean as climate change leads to increased sea ice melting.

    Ilka Peeken and colleagues analyse the...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03825-5

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  • Neanderthals’ brains hold clues to their disappearance

    Scientific Reports, April 27, 2018

    The structure of Neanderthals’ brains may have affected their social and cognitive abilities and contributed to their replacement by Homo sapiens, according to a study in Scientific Reports.

    Naomichi Ogihara, Hiroki Tanabe and colleagues used virtual casts of four Neanderthal and four early Homo sapiens skull fossils to reconstruct the size of their brains. The authors then used MR...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24331-0

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  • Genomics: Clues to human history and hepatitis lie in ancient genomes

    Nature, May 10, 2018

    The genome sequences of 137 ancient humans who lived between about 1,500 and 4,500 years ago are reported in Nature this week. In a second Nature paper, analysis of these genomes and those of 167 Bronze Age humans reveals evidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in 25 of the 304 individuals. The findings suggest that humans throughout Eurasia were infected with HBV for thousands of years.


    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0097-z

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  • Health sciences: Detecting cardiac cell death

    Nature Communications, April 25, 2018

    A method for the non-invasive and cell-specific detection of cardiomyocyte (cardiac muscle cell) death is presented in Nature Communications this week. The method involves the measurement of circulating cell-free DNA released from dying cardiomyocytes. Potential applications could include the diagnosis and monitoring of cardiac pathologies associated with cellular death, such as myocardial infa...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03961-y

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  • Astronomy: A dense cluster of galaxies

    Nature, April 26, 2018

    The discovery of a massive and extremely dense protocluster - the progenitor of a galaxy cluster - is reported in Nature this week.

    During a survey of a region of the sky, the South Pole Telescope discovered a population of rare, extremely bright sources. Using sensitive observations of carbon monoxide and ionized carbon emissions, Tim Miller and colleagues report that the brightest o...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0025-2

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  • Scientific community: Speaking opportunities for women at conferences analysed

    Nature Communications, April 25, 2018

    Female scientists were offered fewer speaking opportunities than male colleagues overall at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, reports a study published in Nature Communications. The authors note that this result is influenced by the gender demographics of the AGU, where women disproportionally occupy the student career stage, at which point fewer speaking opportunities are offe...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03809-5

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  • Ageing: Telomerase structure unveiled

    Nature, April 26, 2018

    The structure of the human telomerase enzyme is reported in Nature this week. With telomerase implicated in cancer and ageing, the findings represent an important step towards the development of telomerase-related therapies.

    Telomeres are the protective caps found at the end of chromosomes. They have been likened to the plastic tips found on shoelaces, because they prevent chromosomes...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0062-x

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  • Virology: Receptor identified for chikungunya infection

    Nature, May 17, 2018

    A cell-surface receptor used by the chikungunya virus to infect cells is identified in a study published in Nature this week.

    Arthritogenic alphaviruses, such as the chikungunya virus (CHIKV), are a group of enveloped RNA viruses, which are transmitted to humans by mosquitoes and can cause acute and chronic musculoskeletal disease. However, the factors required for alphavirus entry in...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0121-3

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  • Stop and smell the rose genome

    Nature Genetics, May 1, 2018

    The genome sequence of the modern rose is the subject of a paper published online this week in Nature Genetics. This reference provides molecular insights into the genes and metabolic processes responsible for the unique color and smell traits of the flower.

    Modern roses, prized for their beauty and scent, have complex genomes that need to be decoded to fully harness the genetic infor...

    Original article doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0110-3

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