Journal Club

Highlighting recently published papers selected by Academy members

Mediating conflict helps community forestry schemes succeed

Empowering people to manage the forests near their homes is one tool of sustainable development. Widely known as “community forestry,” the notion originated in the 1970s with the dream of fair, equitable, and sustainable forest use. But achieving those aims … Continue reading

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Potentially key gene has big role in natural variation of chloroplast size

Worldwide populations of Arabidopsis thaliana all have the same genes, but they vary in many traits, including the size of their chloroplasts. A recent study in Plant Physiology identified one of the genes, FtsZ2-2, contributing to the natural variation in … Continue reading

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Intensive agriculture changes the soil microbiome

California rice farms dot the Sacramento Valley, converting native swampland into flooded paddies. The farms change California’s landscape both above ground and below it. A recent study shows in detail how rice plants shape the soil microbiome into a distinctive … Continue reading

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Mouse gut bacteria cure rotavirus infection, pointing to treatment for humans

Despite available vaccines, over 200,000 children die annually from severe diarrhea cause by rotavirus, which infects intestinal cells. A recently published study, facilitated by a research team’s lucky break, suggests bacteria in the mouse gut microbiome could actually help prevent … Continue reading

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Hydrogel uses biology and light to release proteins on demand, advancing hopes for synthetic tissues

A wiggly cylinder of protein, hydrogel, and human cells, about the size of a wristwatch battery, could one day serve as a building block for synthetic tissues. The implications could be big for biological research and even organ transplants, according … Continue reading

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Common features of domestic animals suggest caveats to evolutionary theory

White patches on fur coats, floppy ears, and curly tails are some of the traits frequently seen in domesticated animals. A group of researchers has now put forth a theory as to why these traits so often evolve in association … Continue reading

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For choices involving uncertainty, the brain simplifies the math that drives our decisions

Every day, people make countless decisions, big and small: Should I buy that new house? Do I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream? A recent study suggests that when faced with uncertainty regarding a choice, how a person evaluates their … Continue reading

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Smarter birds speciate faster

Evolution favors brainier birds. The most crowded branches of the avian tree of life generally hold the most intelligent birds because larger-brained birds split into new species faster than smaller-brained ones, according to recent work published in Evolution. “Being smart … Continue reading

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New insights into how influenza evades human immunity

Some viruses can only infect people once—measles for example. But other viruses, notably influenza, are capable of infecting repeatedly. Scientists have long puzzled over how the flu virus evades human immunity. Recent work in eLife clarifies exactly how the virus … Continue reading

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Unlocking a mystery of seed development promises fatter, oilier oilseeds

The canola cooking oil lining supermarket shelves comes from the seeds of Brassica napus, a weedy-looking plant in the mustard family. Farmers of this crop understandably want varieties that yield big, oily seeds. A recent study in The Plant Cell … Continue reading

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