SciCombinator

Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

175

Tree stems are an important and unconstrained source of methane, yet it is uncertain whether internal microbial controls (i.e. methanotrophy) within tree bark may reduce methane emissions. Here we demonstrate that unique microbial communities dominated by methane-oxidising bacteria (MOB) dwell within bark of Melaleuca quinquenervia, a common, invasive and globally distributed lowland species. In laboratory incubations, methane-inoculated M. quinquenervia bark mediated methane consumption (up to 96.3 µmol m-2 bark d-1) and reveal distinct isotopic δ13C-CH4 enrichment characteristic of MOB. Molecular analysis indicates unique microbial communities reside within the bark, with MOB primarily from the genus Methylomonas comprising up to 25 % of the total microbial community. Methanotroph abundance was linearly correlated to methane uptake rates (R2 = 0.76, p = 0.006). Finally, field-based methane oxidation inhibition experiments demonstrate that bark-dwelling MOB reduce methane emissions by 36 ± 5 %. These multiple complementary lines of evidence indicate that bark-dwelling MOB represent a potentially significant methane sink, and an important frontier for further research.

174

We provide country-level estimates of the cumulative prevalence of mothers bereaved by a child’s death in 170 countries and territories.

167

The unprecedented growth of aquaculture involves well-documented environmental and public-health costs, but less is understood about global animal welfare risks. Integrating data from multiple sources, we estimated the taxonomic diversity of farmed aquatic animals, the number of individuals killed annually, and the species-specific welfare knowledge (absence of which indicates extreme risk). In 2018, FAO reported 82.12 million metric tons of farmed aquatic animals from six phyla and at least 408 species-20 times the number of species of farmed terrestrial animals. The farmed aquatic animal tonnage represents 250 to 408 billion individuals, of which 59 to 129 billion are vertebrates (e.g., carps, salmonids). Specialized welfare information was available for 84 species, only 30% of individuals; the remaining 70% either had no welfare publications or were of an unknown species. With aquaculture growth outpacing welfare knowledge, immediate efforts are needed to safeguard the welfare of high-production, understudied species and to create policies that minimize welfare risks.

151

Creativity is an essential cognitive ability linked to all areas of our everyday functioning. Thus, finding a way to enhance it is of broad interest. A large number of anecdotal reports suggest that the consumption of psychedelic drugs can enhance creative thinking; however, scientific evidence is lacking. Following a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group design, we demonstrated that psilocybin (0.17 mg/kg) induced a time- and construct-related differentiation of effects on creative thinking. Acutely, psilocybin increased ratings of (spontaneous) creative insights, while decreasing (deliberate) task-based creativity. Seven days after psilocybin, number of novel ideas increased. Furthermore, we utilized an ultrahigh field multimodal brain imaging approach, and found that acute and persisting effects were predicted by within- and between-network connectivity of the default mode network. Findings add some support to historical claims that psychedelics can influence aspects of the creative process, potentially indicating them as a tool to investigate creativity and subsequent underlying neural mechanisms. Trial NL6007; psilocybin as a tool for enhanced cognitive flexibility; https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/6007 .

148

Acoustic signals that reliably indicate body size, which usually determines competitive ability, are of particular interest for understanding how animals assess rivals and choose mates. Whereas body size tends to be negatively associated with formant dispersion in animal vocalizations, non-vocal signals have received little attention. Among the most emblematic sounds in the animal kingdom is the chest beat of gorillas, a non-vocal signal that is thought to be important in intra and inter-sexual competition, yet it is unclear whether it reliably indicates body size. We examined the relationship among body size (back breadth), peak frequency, and three temporal characteristics of the chest beat: duration, number of beats and beat rate from sound recordings of wild adult male mountain gorillas. Using linear mixed models, we found that larger males had significantly lower peak frequencies than smaller ones, but we found no consistent relationship between body size and the temporal characteristics measured. Taken together with earlier findings of positive correlations among male body size, dominance rank and reproductive success, we conclude that the gorilla chest beat is an honest signal of competitive ability. These results emphasize the potential of non-vocal signals to convey important information in mammal communication.

145

The categorisation of long-term memory into semantic and episodic systems has been an influential catalyst for research on human memory organisation. However, the impact of variable cognitive control demands on this classical distinction remains to be elucidated. Across two independent experiments, here we directly compare neural processes for the controlled versus automatic retrieval of semantic and episodic memory. In a multi-session functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment, we first identify a common cluster of cortical activity centred on the left inferior frontal gyrus and anterior insular cortex for the retrieval of both weakly-associated semantic and weakly-encoded episodic memory traces. In an independent large-scale individual difference study, we further reveal a common neural circuitry in which reduced functional interaction between the identified cluster and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a default mode network hub, is linked to better performance across both memory types. Our results provide evidence for shared neural processes supporting the controlled retrieval of information from functionally distinct long-term memory systems.

141

Data availability and temporal resolution make it challenging to unravel the anatomy (duration and temporal phasing) of the Last Glacial abrupt climate changes. Here, we address these limitations by investigating the anatomy of abrupt changes using sub-decadal-scale records from Greenland ice cores. We highlight the absence of a systematic pattern in the anatomy of abrupt changes as recorded in different ice parameters. This diversity in the sequence of changes seen in ice-core data is also observed in climate parameters derived from numerical simulations which exhibit self-sustained abrupt variability arising from internal atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions. Our analysis of two ice cores shows that the diversity of abrupt warming transitions represents variability inherent to the climate system and not archive-specific noise. Our results hint that during these abrupt events, it may not be possible to infer statistically-robust leads and lags between the different components of the climate system because of their tight coupling.

140

Many visible public debates over scientific issues are clouded in accusations of falsehood, which place increasing demands on citizens to distinguish fact from fiction. Yet, constraints on our ability to detect misinformation coupled with our inadvertent motivations to believe false science result in a high likelihood that we will form misperceptions. As science falsehoods are often presented with emotional appeals, we focus our perspective on the roles of emotion and humor in the formation of science attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors. Recent research sheds light on how funny science and emotions can help explain and potentially overcome our inability or lack of motivation to recognize and challenge misinformation. We identify some lessons learned from these related and growing areas of research and conclude with a brief discussion of the ethical considerations of using persuasive strategies, calling for more dialogue among members of the science communication community.

131

SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response characterization represents a crucial issue for defining the role of immune protection against COVID-19. The aim of the study was to assess the SARS-CoV-2 T-cell response in a cohort of COVID-19 convalescent patients' and in a group of unexposed subjects.

129

SARS-CoV-2 entry is mediated by the spike (S) glycoprotein which contains the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the N-terminal domain (NTD) as the two main targets of neutralizing antibodies (Abs). A novel variant of concern (VOC) named CAL.20C (B.1.427/B.1.429) was originally detected in California and is currently spreading throughout the US and 29 additional countries. It is unclear whether antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection or to the prototypic Wuhan-1 isolate-based vaccines will be impacted by the three B.1.427/B.1.429 S mutations: S13I, W152C and L452R. Here, we assessed neutralizing Ab responses following natural infection or mRNA vaccination using pseudoviruses expressing the wildtype or the B.1.427/B.1.429 S protein. Plasma from vaccinated or convalescent individuals exhibited neutralizing titers, which were reduced 3-6 fold against the B.1.427/B.1.429 variant relative to wildtype pseudoviruses. The RBD L452R mutation reduced or abolished neutralizing activity of 14 out of 35 RBD-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), including three clinical-stage mAbs. Furthermore, we observed a complete loss of B.1.427/B.1.429 neutralization for a panel of mAbs targeting the N-terminal domain due to a large structural rearrangement of the NTD antigenic supersite involving an S13I-mediated shift of the signal peptide cleavage site. These data warrant closer monitoring of signal peptide variants and their involvement in immune evasion and show that Abs directed to the NTD impose a selection pressure driving SARS-CoV-2 viral evolution through conventional and unconventional escape mechanisms.