top ten research highlights

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


Epidemiology: Covert infections may have contributed to the rapid spread of COVID-19

Nature, July 16, 2020

Up to 87% of COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, China, between January and March 2020 may have gone undetected, according to a modelling study published in Nature. These findings are consistent with recent serological studies in the United States and Europe. Undetected, or unascertained, infections — which may have included asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals, or those with mild symptoms — pro...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2554-8

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Virology: Coronavirus structures provide clues to SARS-CoV-2 evolution

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, July 16, 2020

The structures of the spike glycoproteins, which enable a virus to bind to and enter cells, for SARS-CoV-2 and the closely related bat virus RaTG13 are characterized in a paper in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. The structures provide further information about how the SARS-CoV-2 spike evolved and may provide insights for vaccine design.

Bat coronaviruses have been iden...

doi: 10.1038/s41594-020-0468-7

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Bioengineering: Restoring damaged human lungs via cross-circulation to a pig

Nature Medicine, July 14, 2020

Damaged human lungs that have been rejected for organ transplantation could be reconditioned through the use of cross-circulation from a pig, suggests a paper published in Nature Medicine.

The availability of lung transplantation—the only definitive cure for end-stage lung disease—remains limited due to an insufficient supply of high-quality donor lungs. Current strategies ...

doi: 10.1038/s41591-020-0971-8

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Climate change: Coastal flooding could threaten up to 20% of global GDP

Scientific Reports, July 31, 2020

Coastal flooding events could threaten assets worth up to 20% of the global GDP by 2100, a study in Scientific Reports suggests. The areas predicted to be most impacted by flooding are north-west Europe, south-east and east Asia, north-east USA and northern Australia, according to the authors.

Ebru Kirezci and colleagues combined data on global sea levels during extreme storms...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67736-6

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Planetary science: Moon experienced an asteroid shower 800 million years ago

Nature Communications, July 22, 2020

The Moon experienced a bombardment by meteoroids (small asteroids) approximately 800 million years ago, suggests a paper published in Nature Communications. Based on collision probabilities, the research suggests that meteroids with a total mass of approximately 30 to 60 times that of the meteorite responsible for the Chicxulub impact collided with the Earth just prior to the Cryogenian ...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17115-6

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Genomics: Six genomes provide clues to bats’ exceptional adaptations

Nature, July 23, 2020

High-quality reference genomes for six bat species are published in Nature this week. The findings provide new insights into the genetic basis for bats’ extreme adaptations, such as their longevity, echolocation, sensory perception and exceptional immunity to viral infections.

As part of the Bat1K global genome consortium, Emma Teeling, Sonja Vernes and colleagues report the ...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2486-3

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Palaeontology: Ancient African skull sheds light on American crocodile origins

Scientific Reports, July 24, 2020

The extinct African crocodile species Crocodylus checchiai may be closely related to American crocodile species alive today, according to a study published in Scientific Reports. The findings suggest that crocodiles may have migrated from Africa to America during the Late Miocene epoch (11–5 million years ago).

Prior to this discovery it was unclear whether crocodiles reached...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-68482-5

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Genetics: ENCODE expands the encyclopaedia of regulatory elements

Nature, July 30, 2020

An online registry of over 1,200,000 human and mouse candidate functional elements that regulate genes is presented as part of the third phase of the ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project. The findings, included in a collection of 14 papers in Nature, Nature Methods and Nature Communications, provide new insights into genome organization and function.


doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2493-4

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Environment: Microplastic pollution from roads rides the wind

Nature Communications, July 15, 2020

The atmospheric transportation around the world of microplastics produced by road traffic is modelled in a paper in Nature Communications. The study finds that microplastic particles are transported to remote regions, including the Arctic. Estimates suggest that the total amount of these particles which end up in the oceans as a result of airborne delivery is of a similar size to that de...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-17201-9

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Planetary science: Ancient ice sheets on Mars

Nature Geoscience, August 4, 2020

Certain valleys on early Mars may have formed under extensive ice sheets, suggests a paper published in Nature Geoscience. These findings may help to reconcile geological evidence and simulations of the climate of early Mars.

Understanding the climate in the first billion years of Mars’s history is important in determining whether the planet was ever habitable. Previous resea...

doi: 10.1038/s41561-020-0618-x

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