top ten research highlights

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


Agriculture: ‘White gold’ guano drove robust agriculture in Atacama Desert from AD 1000

Nature Plants, January 26, 2021

Seabird guano fertilizer — also known as ‘white gold’ — could have been responsible for the highly productive agricultural systems of pre-Incan civilization in the otherwise arid climate of the Atacama Desert. These findings, reported in a paper published in Nature Plants, shed light on the development of the large population centres and society between AD 1000 and AD 1450 in wha...

doi: 10.1038/s41477-020-00835-4

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Neuroscience: Treating hypotension induced by spinal cord injuries

Nature, January 28, 2021

A spinal stimulation treatment that restores blood pressure maintenance after spinal cord injury in rodents and non-human primates is demonstrated in Nature this week. Preliminary investigations in a human patient indicate that the human spinal cord also responds effectively to this treatment.

Paralysis and loss of sensation are often the main focus when it comes to treating spi...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03180-w

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Microbiology: Neonatal antibiotic use associated with reduced growth in boys

Nature Communications, January 27, 2021

Exposure to antibiotics in the first few weeks of life is associated with reduced weight and height in boys up to the age of six, but not girls, reports a paper in Nature Communications. The study suggests that this effect may be due to changes in the development of the gut microbiome.

The use of antibiotics in newborn babies during the first weeks of life has been reported to lead to a...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20495-4

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Infectious disease: Antibody highs and lows in survivors of Ebola

Nature, January 28, 2021

39 out of 51 healthy survivors of Ebola experienced a resurgence in antibody levels nearly a year after recovery, a Nature study reveals. The finding, which hints that hidden reservoirs of virus could exist long after symptoms ease, has implications for monitoring programmes and vaccination strategies.

When a person is infected with Ebola virus, their body produces antibodies to...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03146-y

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Animal behaviour: Human disturbance affects animals’ movements, threatening their survival

Nature Ecology & Evolution, February 2, 2021

Human activities alter the way that animals move around their environments, according to a paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. This poses a potential risk to animals’ lives, and contributes to threats of extinction around the world.

Most human activities can affect animal movement. Our direct presence — through hunting, tourism or recreation — can cause animals t...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-01380-1

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Climate science: Sea temperatures rising for past 12,000 years

Nature, January 28, 2021

Global sea surface temperatures have been rising for the past 12,000 years, suggests a study published in Nature. The study helps to reconcile previous differences between climate models and data used to reconstruct historical changes in the climate during the Holocene.

Previous reconstructions of historical climate, based on preserved geological materials, have indicated a warm ...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-03155-x

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Earth science: Delayed slab avalanche could explain 1959 Urals mountaineering mystery

Communications Earth&Environment, January 29, 2021

The 1959 incident at Dyatlov Pass in the Ural Mountains—during which 9 hikers died—has defied explanation for decades. An article published this week in Communications Earth & Environment suggests that a combination of several factors—including irregular topography, a cut made in the snow to install the hikers’ tent, subsequent snow deposition by strong, icy winds—triggered an...

doi: 10.1038/s43247-020-00081-8

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Marine science: Bleaching leaves long-lasting effects on coral physiology

Nature Ecology & Evolution, February 9, 2021

Physiological changes can be detected in corals four years after a bleaching event, even if the corals appear to have visibly recovered, suggests a study in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The findings may have implications for the conservation and management of coral reefs.

Coral bleaching has a considerable impact on the health and function of reef ecosystems. When corals are overh...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-01388-7

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Environmental science: Fresh water in the ice-age Arctic Ocean

Nature, February 4, 2021

The Arctic Ocean and adjacent Nordic seas were mostly filled with fresh water, rather than salt water, for intermittent periods during two recent glaciations, and were covered by a thick ice shelf, suggests a study published in Nature this week. These findings indicate that revisions of ancient sea-level reconstructions, based on previous estimates of freshwater levels, may be needed.

doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03186-y

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Climate science: Under-reporting of greenhouse gas emissions in US cities

Nature Communications, February 3, 2021

Cities in the United States may under-report their own greenhouse gas emissions by 18.3 % on average, according to a new study published in Nature Communications this week. The research highlights that US cities may omit some fuels, and estimate transportation emissions differently, leading to questions of the robustness of the current self-reporting system.

Cities around the wo...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-20871-0

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