Volume 501 Number 7465



The power of treaties p.5

International weapons conventions may not be perfect, but they are a vital mechanism for making wars less barbaric and less frequent — a cause that should galvanize scientists and others.

doi: 10.1038/501005a


Nuclear error p.5

Japan should bring in international help to study and mitigate the Fukushima crisis.

doi: 10.1038/501005b


The nitrogen fix p.6

A simple iron complex offers a chance to update how the global supply of ammonia is made.

doi: 10.1038/501006a



Brazil delays stargazing pact p.13

Reluctance to pay entrance fees stalls European Southern Observatory’s giant telescope.

doi: 10.1038/501013a


Floods spur mountain study p.14

Himalayan nations take action in response to changing climate and its deadly effects.

doi: 10.1038/501014a


Forest management plans in a tangle p.15

Conservation fight flares over invasive California eucalyptus.

doi: 10.1038/501015a


NASA ponders Kepler’s future p.16

Spacecraft could continue to hunt for planets — or take on alternative tasks, such as asteroid spotting.

doi: 10.1038/501016a


Gaming improves multitasking skills p.18

Study reveals plasticity in age-related cognitive decline.

doi: 10.1038/501018a

News Features


Systems ecology: Biology on the high seas p.20


doi: 10.1038/501020a

News & Views


Autism: A long genetic explanation p.36


doi: 10.1038/nature12553


Quantum information: Sharing quantum secrets p.37


doi: 10.1038/501037a


Evolutionary biology: Mimicry all the way down p.38


doi: 10.1038/501038a


Biogeochemistry: As different as night and day p.39


doi: 10.1038/501039a


Cell biology: Recycling in sight p.40


doi: 10.1038/501040a


Immunology: B-cell development in the gut p.42


doi: 10.1038/nature12551


Neuroscience: Bacteria get on your nerves p.43


doi: 10.1038/nature12550



Self-propagation of pathogenic protein aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases p.45

The prion paradigm – the hypothesis that the seeded aggregation of certain proteins is key to understanding age-related neurodegenerative disorders – is evaluated in relation to recent studies and disease models; the paradigm suggests a unifying pathogenic principle with broad relevance to a large class of currently intractable diseases.

doi: 10.1038/nature12481



Bacteria activate sensory neurons that modulate pain and inflammation p.52

This study shows that most known mediators of immunity, such as TLR2, MyD88, T cells or B cells, and neutrophils and monocytes, are dispensable for pain produced by Staphylococcus aureus infection; instead, bacterial products, such as N-formylated peptides and α-haemolysin, induce pain by directly activating nociceptor neurons, which in turn modulate inflammation.

doi: 10.1038/nature12479


Topoisomerases facilitate transcription of long genes linked to autism p.58

Reducing topoisomerase activity in mouse and human neurons is found to reduce the expression of long genes by impairing transcription elongation: among genes affected are numerous high-confidence candidates for autism spectrum disorder.

doi: 10.1038/nature12504


Key tissue targets responsible for anthrax-toxin-induced lethality p.63

Cell-type-specific anthrax toxin receptor CMG2-null mice are generated and used to show that the Bacillus anthracis toxins lethal toxin (LT) and oedema toxin (ET) target distinct cell types; in contrast to previous suggestions, it is shown that endothelial cells are not key targets for either toxin and instead LT targets cardiomyocytes and vascular smooth muscle cells whereas ET targets hepatocytes.

doi: 10.1038/nature12510



A quantum access network p.69

An experimental demonstration of the concept of a ‘quantum access network’ based on simple and cost-effective telecommunication technologies yields a viable method for realizing multi-user quantum key distribution networks with efficient use of resources.

doi: 10.1038/nature12493


Microscopic origin of the ‘0.7-anomaly’ in quantum point contacts p.73

The ‘0.7-anomaly’ — an unexpected feature in the conductance of a quantum point contact — is shown to originate in a smeared van Hove singularity in the local density of states at the bottom of the lowest one-dimensional subband of the point contact.

doi: 10.1038/nature12421


Odd and even Kondo effects from emergent localization in quantum point contacts p.79

Electric conductance through a narrow constriction of width comparable to the electronic wavelength is quantized in units of 2e2/h, but a shoulder at around 0.7 of the conductance quantum is often present in measurements; detailed experiments now confirm that this effect is due to the emergence of localized states that result from many-body interactions between electrons in the constriction.

doi: 10.1038/nature12491


Catalytic conversion of nitrogen to ammonia by an iron model complex p.84

Catalysis of the reduction of nitrogen to ammonia under mild conditions by a tris(phosphine)borane-supported iron complex indicates that a single iron site may be capable of stabilizing the various NxHy intermediates generated during catalytic ammonia formation.

doi: 10.1038/nature12435


Asymmetric effects of daytime and night-time warming on Northern Hemisphere vegetation p.88

Correlations between the maximum and minimum daily temperatures and a vegetation index in the Northern Hemisphere suggest that asymmetric diurnal warming (faster warming of the land surface during the night than during the day) produces several different vegetation and carbon storage effects.

doi: 10.1038/nature12434


Evolutionary origins of the avian brain p.93

High-resolution computed tomography is used to compare cranial volumes of extant birds, the early avialan Archaeopteryx lithographica, and non-avian maniraptoran dinosaurs that are close to the origins of Avialae and avian flight; the cranial cavity of Archaeopteryx is not distinct from that of maniraptorans, suggesting that some non-avian maniraptorans may have had the neurological equipment required for flight.

doi: 10.1038/nature12424


Video game training enhances cognitive control in older adults p.97

Training with a multitasking video game is shown to improve cognitive control abilities that decline with age, revealing the plasticity of the ageing brain; these behavioural improvements were accompanied by underlying neural changes that predicted the training-induced boost in sustained attention and enhanced multitasking performance 6 months later.

doi: 10.1038/nature12486


The toxicity of antiprion antibodies is mediated by the flexible tail of the prion protein p.102

Biochemical and structural investigation of a model for prion-induced neurodegeneration—antibody binding to PrPC—reveals the role of the PrP flexible tail and reactive oxygen species in mediating toxicity.

doi: 10.1038/nature12402


Induction of intestinal stem cells by R-spondin 1 and Slit2 augments chemoradioprotection p.107

Evidence of crosstalk between the Robo/Slit and Wnt signalling pathways is provided, and R-spondin signalling is shown to enhance canonical Wnt signalling and increase the proliferation of intestinal stem cells.

doi: 10.1038/nature12416


Microbial colonization influences early B-lineage development in the gut lamina propria p.112

Primary B-cell development is thought to be restricted to the bone marrow; here it is shown to occur also in intestinal tissues of postnatal mice, that it peaks at the time of weaning and is increased upon colonization of germ-free mice, and is thus influenced by commensal microbes.

doi: 10.1038/nature12496


Vesicular and non-vesicular transport feed distinct glycosylation pathways in the Golgi p.116

Glucosylceramide (GlcCer), a common precursor of different glycosphingolipids, is shown to be channelled to two distinct pathways in the Golgi; non-vesicular transport from the cis- to trans-Golgi network results in the synthesis of the globo series of glycosphingolipids, whereas vesicular transport is the main source of GlcCer for ganglioside synthesis in the Golgi cisternae.

doi: 10.1038/nature12423


Recovery from slow inactivation in K+ channels is controlled by water molecules p.121

A series of long molecular dynamics simulations shows that the K+ channel is sterically locked in the inactive conformation by buried water molecules bound behind the selectivity filter; a kinetic model deduced from the simulations shows how releasing the buried waters can elongate the timescale of the recovery period, and this hypothesis is confirmed using ‘wet’ biophysical experiments.

doi: 10.1038/nature12395

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