Volume 520 Issue 7546



The European Union faces a fresh battle over next-generation plant-breeding techniques.

doi: 10.1038/520131b


A review of the United Kingdom’s progress towards ‘gold’ open-access research is instructive — for funders, publishers and scientists both at home and abroad.

doi: 10.1038/520131a


A study in Nature adds a dramatic twist to the backstory of a neighbour we thought we knew.

doi: 10.1038/520132a



Killer disease that is scourge of world’s poorest ruminant farmers is ripe for elimination.

doi: 10.1038/520139a


Climate scientists highlight cloud mysteries in a bid to compete with astronomy and cosmology.

doi: 10.1038/520140a


Common language and methods are needed to fulfil biofactory dream.

doi: 10.1038/520141a


Fledgling alliance will manage international grants and develop science strategy.

doi: 10.1038/520142a

News Features


There is a growing number of postdocs and few places in academia for them to go. But change could be on the way.

doi: 10.1038/520144a


Swiss-cheese-like materials called metal–organic frameworks have long promised to improve gas storage, separation and catalysis. Now they are coming of age.

doi: 10.1038/520148a

News & Views


Transplantation experiments in mice reveal that the increased risk of congenital heart disease in the pups of older mothers is not conferred by ageing eggs, but by the mothers' age, and can be mitigated by exercise. See Letter p.230

doi: 10.1038/nature14379


Organic compounds called nitriles have been detected in material surrounding a young star. The finding hints at a vast reservoir of ice and volatile species that can seed the surfaces of young rocky planets or moons. See Letter p.198

doi: 10.1038/520161a


The Paf1 protein complex in fission yeast has been found to protect protein-coding genes from inhibition by RNA-mediated silencing of transcription, by stimulating the release of nascent transcripts from DNA. See Letter p.248

doi: 10.1038/nature14376


Spontaneously generated, random wrinkles of coatings on microscale particles have been found to be analogous to fingerprints — unique patterns with a wavy topography that can serve as unclonable tags for anti-counterfeiting purposes.

doi: 10.1038/nature14380


Analysis of endothelial cells, which are involved in blood-vessel formation, unexpectedly reveals that proliferation in this cell type depends on fatty-acid oxidation to support DNA synthesis. See Article p.192

doi: 10.1038/nature14375


The heavy element lawrencium is available in only tiny quantities. Measurement of one of its atomic properties was thus an experimental challenge, but indispensably validates theoretical models of heavy elements. See Letter p.209

doi: 10.1038/520166a


The discovery that interactions between two stress-associated neuropeptide hormones regulate binge drinking in mice provides insight into the biological mechanisms that underpin the bingeing cycle.

doi: 10.1038/520168a


Earth and the Moon share many puzzling chemical similarities. New analyses show that the last planet-sized body to hit Earth could have been similar enough to Earth to yield a Moon with an Earth-like composition. See Letter p.212

doi: 10.1038/520169a



A large amount of organic carbon stored in frozen Arctic soils (permafrost) could be released as carbon dioxide and methane in a warming climate, which would accelerate the pace of climate change; this review suggests that release of greenhouse gas emissions will be gradual but prolonged.

doi: 10.1038/nature14338



Ca2+ spikes are generated on different dendritic branches in the primary motor cortex of mice performing different motor learning tasks, causing long-lasting potentiation of postsynaptic dendritic spines; inactivation of a population of interneurons disrupts the spatial separation of Ca2+ spikes and persistent dendritic spine potentiation, suggesting that the generation of Ca2+ spikes on different dendritic branches is crucial for storing information in individual neurons.

doi: 10.1038/nature14251


The physical size of the commonly used Cas9 from Streptococcus pyogenes poses challenges for CRISPR-Cas genome editing systems that use the adeno-associated virus as a delivery vehicle; here, smaller Cas9 orthologues are characterized, and Cas9 from Staphylococcus aureus allowed targeting of the cholesterol regulatory gene Pcsk9 in the mouse liver.

doi: 10.1038/nature14299


This study identifies a crucial role for fatty acid oxidation (FAO) in endothelial cells during angiogenesis, and reveals that fatty-acid-derived carbons are used for the de novo synthesis of nucleotides, and hence FAO stimulates vessel sprouting by increasing endothelial cell proliferation.

doi: 10.1038/nature14362



The detection of complex cyanides in the protoplanetary disk around the young star MWC 480, and the similarity of their abundance ratios to those found in comets, implies that the rich organic chemistry of our solar nebula was not unique.

doi: 10.1038/nature14276


The alignment of Saturn’s magnetic pole with its rotation axis precludes the use of magnetic field measurements to determine its rotation period. The period was previously determined from radio measurements by the Voyager spacecraft to be 10 h 39 min 22.4 s (ref. 2). When the Cassini spacecraft measured a period of 10 h 47 min 6 s, which was additionally found to change between sequential measurements, it became clear that the radio period could not be used to determine the bulk planetary rotation period. Estimates based upon Saturn’s measured wind fields have increased the uncertainty even more, giving numbers smaller than the Voyager rotation period, and at present Saturn’s rotation period is thought to be between 10 h 32 min and 10 h 47 min, which is unsatisfactory for such a fundamental property. Here we report a period of 10 h 32 min 45 s ± 46 s, based upon an optimization approach using Saturn’s measured gravitational field and limits on the observed shape and possible internal density profiles. Moreover, even when solely using the constraints from its gravitational field, the rotation period can be inferred with a precision of several minutes. To validate our method, we applied the same procedure to Jupiter and correctly recovered its well-known rotation period.

doi: 10.1038/nature14278


Four-wave mixing processes are achieved at suboptical wavelengths by using a free-electron laser as a source to generate extreme ultraviolet pulses that produce transient gratings.

doi: 10.1038/nature14341


Lawrencium, with atomic number 103, has an isotope with a half-life of 27 seconds; even so, its first ionization potential has now been measured on an atom-at-a-time scale and agrees well with state-of-the-art theoretical calculations that include relativistic effects.

doi: 10.1038/nature14342


The Moon is thought to have formed mainly from a giant impactor striking the Earth but it has seemed odd that the Earth and its impactor (and hence the Moon) had such similar compositions; here simulations of planetary accretion show that although the different planets have distinct compositions, the composition of each giant impactor is indeed often very similar to that of the planet it strikes.

doi: 10.1038/nature14333


A partial skull from northern Israel dated to be from around 55,000 years ago sheds light on a crucial but little-known period of prehistory: the spread of anatomically modern humans from Africa.

doi: 10.1038/nature14134


A method to measure the precise relationship between neuronal firing rates and the representation of accumulated evidence is described; results in the parietal and prefrontal cortex of rats, together with transient optogenetic inactivation of the prefrontal cortex, challenge the prevailing view that the prefrontal cortex is part of the neural circuit for accumulating evidence, and suggest that neurons in parietal and prefrontal areas have distinct relationships to evidence accumulation in decision-making.

doi: 10.1038/nature14066


Genome-wide association studies are used to identify common genetic variants that affect the structure of selected subcortical regions of the human brain; their identification provides insight into the causes of variability in brain development and may help to determine mechanisms of neuropsychiatric dysfunction.

doi: 10.1038/nature14101


Increased maternal age is known to increase the risk of congenital heart disease in offspring; here, this link is investigated by transplanting ovaries between young and old mice, revealing that the maternal-age-associated risk is independent of the age of the ovaries but depends on the age of the mother, and that this risk can be mitigated by maternal genetic background or exercise.

doi: 10.1038/nature14361


Repeated contacts between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and a subset of endosomes called late endosomes (LEs) is shown to promote microtubule-dependent translocation of LEs to the cell periphery and their subsequent fusion with the plasma membrane to induce outgrowth of neuronal protrusions.

doi: 10.1038/nature14359


A subset of lung cancer cells with EGFR or BRG1 mutations shows selective sensitivity to a combination of EZH2 inhibitors with topoisomerase II inhibitors such as the commonly used chemotherapeutic drug etoposide.

doi: 10.1038/nature14122


Genome-wide localization and activity analysis of the de novo DNA methyltransferases DNMT3A and DNMT3B in mouse embryonic stem cells identifies overlapping and individual targeting preferences to the genome, including a role for DNMT3B in gene body methylation.

doi: 10.1038/nature14176


The fission yeast is shown to have a mechanism to prevent small RNAs from inducing heterochromatin and epigenetic gene silencing; this protective model involves the highly conserved Paf1 complex, which is known to promote transcription and processing of pre-mRNA, and protects protein-coding genes from unwanted silencing by spurious transcripts.

doi: 10.1038/nature14337