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Current Biology
This journal offers authors two options (open access or subscription) to publish research

Mar 03, 2014

Volume 24Issue 5p473-586, R175-R208
Open Archive
On the cover: A male Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus) surveys the Bambous Mountains from a perch near to his cliff-top nesting cavity. Endemic to the island of Mauritius, this threatened species persists in a highly modified forest-agriculture landscape mosaic. Previous work suggests that environmental conditions experienced in early life can have long-lasting effects on wild animals, but the long-term effects of habitat change caused by humans have yet to be explored in this context. In this issue, Cartwright, Nicoll, and colleagues (pages 536–540) report that adult kestrels born in agricultural territories shift investment in reproduction to earlier in life, at the expense of late-life performance. They also survive less well as young adults. This change in life history enabled the birds to compensate for their poor start in life, representing an example of an adaptive, plastic response to contemporary environmental change. Given the scale of human-induced habitat change, such legacy effects may be widespread in wild populations. Image © Sam Cartwright....
On the cover: A male Mauritius kestrel (Falco punctatus) surveys the Bambous Mountains from a perch near to his cliff-top nesting cavity. Endemic to the island of Mauritius, this threatened species persists in a highly modified forest-agriculture landscape mosaic. Previous work suggests that environmental conditions experienced in early life can have long-lasting effects on wild animals, but the long-term effects of habitat change caused by humans have yet to be explored in this context. In this issue, Cartwright, Nicoll, and colleagues (pages 536–540) report that adult kestrels born in agricultural territories shift investment in reproduction to earlier in life, at the expense of late-life performance. They also survive less well as young adults. This change in life history enabled the birds to compensate for their poor start in life, representing an example of an adaptive, plastic response to contemporary environmental change. Given the scale of human-induced habitat change, such legacy effects may be widespread in wild populations. Image © Sam Cartwright.

Magazine

Feature

  • The past and future habitability of planet Mars

    • Michael Gross
    Results from NASA’s Curiosity rover reveal traces of bygone aqueous environments with sufficiently benign conditions for some of Earth’s hardier extremophiles to thrive. If Mars hosted life in the past, it may do so again in the future, as a project to colonise our neighbour planet is now recruiting volunteers for the one-way trip. Michael Gross reports.

Book review

  • Scientist, socialist: The enduring appeal of Alfred Russel Wallace

    • Andrew Berry
    Faced with writing Alfred Russel Wallace’s obituary for Science in 1913, Theodore Cockerell identified the challenge posed by Wallace: “It is impossible for any man to discuss adequately the life work of Alfred Russel Wallace. His activities covered such a long period, and were so varied, that no one living is in a position to critically appreciate more than a part of them.” Wallace is best known for his discovery, with Charles Darwin, of evolution by natural selection, but Cockerell recognized that this was just one chapter in the sprawling Wallace epic.

Q & A

  • Michael Nitabach

    • Michael Nitabach
    Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Michael Nitabach spent his childhood growing up in northern New Jersey and attending the Pingry School. Nitabach has lived in New York City since 1990, when he entered the PhD program in the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. He received his scientific training at the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marine Biological Laboratory, Columbia University, and New York University. He is currently Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and of Genetics at Yale University, a faculty affiliate of the Program in Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair, a member of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale, and Visiting Scientist at Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Quick guide

  • Giant clams

    • John S. Lucas
    What are giant clams? Giant clams (Tridacnidae) are a family of bivalve molluscs that live in tropical waters on coral reefs. They are unique due to their large size and very specialised feeding mechanism. The largest giant clam species, Tridacna gigas, is the largest two-shelled (bivalve) animal that has ever existed. There is nothing in the fossil record that can match it. This clam may be up to 1.3 m long and weigh up to 500 kg. While not all 11 species of giant clam are this size — they range from 15 cm to 1.3 m shell length, with the majority in the 40–50 cm range — they are all large compared to typical bivalves, such as oysters, mussels and scallops.

Primer

  • Legume nodulation

    • J. Allan Downie
    For reasons that are unclear, no eukaryotic enzymes can break the triple bond of N2. The reduction of N2 to NH3 (nitrogen fixation) is limited to prokaryotes and is catalysed by nitrogenase. Since most of the nitrogen entering the biosphere (around 100 million metric tonnes of N2 per annum) does so through nitrogenase activity (lightning contributes about 10%), those plants that associate with nitrogen-fixing bacteria have a significant selective advantage under conditions of limiting nitrogen.

Correspondence

  • Rank influences human sex differences in dyadic cooperation

    • Joyce F. Benenson,
    • Henry Markovits,
    • Richard Wrangham
    Unrelated human males regularly interact in groups [1], which can include higher and lower ranked individuals. In contrast, from early childhood through adulthood, females often reduce group size in order to interact with only one individual of equal rank [1–5]. In many species, when either sex maintains a group structure, unrelated individuals must cooperate with those differing in rank [6]. Given that human males interact more than females in groups, we hypothesized that dyadic cooperation between individuals of differing rank should occur more frequently between human males than females.

Dispatches

  • Neurotransmission: Spontaneous and Evoked Release Filing for Divorce

    • Alexander M. Walter,
    • Volker Haucke,
    • Stephan J. Sigrist
    Neurotransmitter release can be evoked by action potentials or occur spontaneously, but the relationship between those modes has been unclear. The direct visualization of release events has now shown that individual synapses display preferences for evoked versus spontaneous transmission that are determined by the release machinery at active zones.
  • Actin Cytoskeleton: A Nucleator Face-Off

    • James B. Moseley
    Actin assembly proteins initiate the formation of diverse cytoskeletal structures in a single cell. A new study shows that assembly factors compete for actin monomers, leading to homeostasis between different actin networks.
  • Sexual Conflict: Male Control of Female Longevity

    • Martyna Zwoinska,
    • Martin I. Lind,
    • Alexei A. Maklakov
    Males and females have different evolutionary interests resulting in sexual conflict over optimal life histories. A new study in Caenorhabditis elegans shows that males hijack female physiology after mating to cause body shrinking and, ultimately, death. But how do males benefit from female demise?
  • Axon Guidance: FLRTing Promotes Attraction

    • Laura Anne Lowery
    A recent study demonstrates a new mechanism by which crosstalk between multiple guidance cues is integrated during axon pathfinding. FLRT3 is a novel co-receptor for Robo1 that acts as a context-dependent modulator of Netrin-1 attraction in thalamocortical axons.
  • Animal Vision: Starfish Can See at Last

    • Michael F. Land
    Starfish have small compound eyes at the ends of their arms. Until recently no behavioural function had been found for them, but now it appears that starfish are able to use them to navigate to the edges of reefs from which they sometimes stray.
  • Genetics: A Common Origin for Neuronal Asymmetries?

    • Iskra A. Signore,
    • Miguel L. Concha
    A new study reveals an unexpected genetic link between two distinct types of neuronal asymmetries in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This finding suggests a common origin of genetically determined asymmetries and raises intriguing questions about their evolution.
  • Visual Neuroscience: A Binocular Advantage for Word Processing during Reading

    • Kevin Paterson
    A recent study using a novel saccade-contingent display-change technique to control the presentation of text to each eye shows a binocular advantage for both foveal and parafoveal processing of words during natural reading.
  • Aging: It’s SIRTainly Possible to Restore Mitochondrial Dysfunction

    • Brooke E. Christian,
    • Gerald S. Shadel
    Mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly associated with aging. A recent study shows that reduced nuclear SIRT1 activity initiates age-related mitochondrial decline through a signaling pathway that perturbs expression of genes encoded by mitochondrial DNA. This reversible pathway has potential anti-aging therapeutic value.

Articles

  • A Tarantula-Venom Peptide Antagonizes the TRPA1 Nociceptor Ion Channel by Binding to the S1–S4 Gating Domain

    • Junhong Gui,
    • Boyi Liu,
    • Guan Cao,
    • Andrew M. Lipchik,
    • Minervo Perez,
    • Zoltan Dekan,
    • Mehdi Mobli,
    • Norelle L. Daly,
    • Paul F. Alewood,
    • Laurie L. Parker,
    • Glenn F. King,
    • Yufeng Zhou,
    • Sven-Eric Jordt,
    • Michael N. Nitabach
    Gui et al. apply a new recombinant screening approach to the pharmacological diversity of spider venoms, thereby identifying ProTx-I—from the venom of the Peruvian green-velvet tarantula—as a potent peptide antagonist of human TRPA1 pain channel. ProTx-I inhibits TRPA1 most likely by binding to and stabilizing its closed state.
  • Evoked and Spontaneous Transmission Favored by Distinct Sets of Synapses

    • Einat S. Peled,
    • Zachary L. Newman,
    • Ehud Y. Isacoff
    Peled et al. use optical quantal imaging to visualize transmission at dozens of synaptic connections of the Drosophila larval NMJ. They find a surprising divergence between synapses that participate in evoked transmission and have high levels of the presynaptic cytomatrix protein Brp, and those low in Brp that participate in spontaneous transmission.
  • FLRT3 Is a Robo1-Interacting Protein that Determines Netrin-1 Attraction in Developing Axons

    • Eduardo Leyva-Díaz,
    • Daniel del Toro,
    • Maria José Menal,
    • Serafi Cambray,
    • Rafael Susín,
    • Marc Tessier-Lavigne,
    • Rüdiger Klein,
    • Joaquim Egea,
    • Guillermina López-Bendito
    Leyva-Díaz et al. use different experimental approaches to understand how interactions between guidance cues can multiply axonal responses that are necessary for the formation of neural circuits. Specifically, Netrin-1 attraction in thalamic axons is controlled by Slit/Robo1 signaling and by FLRT3, a novel Robo1 coreceptor.
  • RETRACTED: Agonist-Induced GPCR Shedding from the Ciliary Surface Is Dependent on ESCRT-III and VPS4

    • Livana Soetedjo,
    • Hua Jin
    This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal ( http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy ). Concerns regarding the western blotting and live-cell imaging data presented in this paper were reported to the journal editors. An investigation by a faculty committee at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where the work was carried out, concluded that some figures had been manipulated by the first author. In light of the committee’s findings, the corresponding author wishes to retract the paper in full.

Reports

  • C. elegans Ciliated Sensory Neurons Release Extracellular Vesicles that Function in Animal Communication

    • Juan Wang,
    • Malan Silva,
    • Leonard A. Haas,
    • Natalia S. Morsci,
    • Ken C.Q. Nguyen,
    • David H. Hall,
    • Maureen M. Barr
    Wang et al. use C. elegans as a new model system to visualize the release of extracellular vesicles (ECVs) in vivo, identify ECV cargo, and demonstrate that purified ECVs induce behavioral changes in a cargo-dependent manner.
  • Binocular Advantages in Reading

    • Stephanie Jainta,
    • Hazel I. Blythe,
    • Simon P. Liversedge
    Jainta et al. demonstrate a benefit of binocular relative to monocular text presentation for parafoveal and foveal lexical processing in reading. The findings fit neatly with current models of eye movement control in reading, wherein successful word identification is a primary determinant of saccade initiation.
  • Multisensory Integration and Attention in Developmental Dyslexia

    • Vanessa Harrar,
    • Jonathan Tammam,
    • Alexis Pérez-Bellido,
    • Anna Pitt,
    • John Stein,
    • Charles Spence
    Harrar et al. compare speeded audiovisual multisensory reaction times with Miller’s race model, and assess the contribution of the modality shift effect, for dyslexics and controls. The results reveal dyslexics are slower than controls when shifting attention from visual to auditory stimuli.
  • Anthropogenic Natal Environmental Effects on Life Histories in a Wild Bird Population

    • Samantha J. Cartwright,
    • Malcolm A.C. Nicoll,
    • Carl G. Jones,
    • Vikash Tatayah,
    • Ken Norris
    Cartwright et al. show that there is a legacy of human activity on the life histories of a tropical wild bird. Individuals born in human-modified habitat have altered schedules of reproduction and survival over their lifetimes, which appear to be an adaptive, plastic response to environmental change.
  • Human Hippocampus Arbitrates Approach-Avoidance Conflict

    • Dominik R. Bach,
    • Marc Guitart-Masip,
    • Pau A. Packard,
    • Júlia Miró,
    • Mercè Falip,
    • Lluís Fuentemilla,
    • Raymond J. Dolan
    Using a combined functional magnetic resonance imaging and hippocampus lesion approach, Bach et al. demonstrate that the human anterior hippocampus is engaged in monitoring threat level during approach-avoidance conflict, replicating and extending a rodent literature on models of anxiety.
  • The Initiation of Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis Is Mechanistically Highly Flexible

    • Thorsten Brach,
    • Camilla Godlee,
    • Iben Moeller-Hansen,
    • Dominik Boeke,
    • Marko Kaksonen
    Brach et al. show that the initiation of clathrin-mediated endocytosis is more flexible than expected. Many different endocytic proteins can initiate vesicle budding but none of them are essential for it. This allows robust vesicle budding to proceed from variable initiation and cargo recruitment steps.
  • Human-Mediated Loss of Phylogenetic and Functional Diversity in Coral Reef Fishes

    • Stéphanie D’agata,
    • David Mouillot,
    • Michel Kulbicki,
    • Serge Andréfouët,
    • David R. Bellwood,
    • Joshua E. Cinner,
    • Peter F. Cowman,
    • Mecki Kronen,
    • Silvia Pinca,
    • Laurent Vigliola
    D’agata et al. show that human pressure reduces phylogenetic and functional diversity for a critically important fish family, while it only marginally impacts the level of species richness. This finding calls for caution when using species richness as a benchmark for measuring the status of ecosystems.
  • Olfactory Coding in the Honeybee Lateral Horn

    • Edith Roussel,
    • Julie Carcaud,
    • Maud Combe,
    • Martin Giurfa,
    • Jean-Christophe Sandoz
    Roussel et al. show that the honeybee lateral horn contains odor-specific maps, which allow prediction of bees’ olfactory generalization behavior. Segregated pheromone information is also available in this structure, fitting with a role in eliciting innate behaviors.
  • Single Scale for Odor Intensity in Rat Olfaction

    • Pawel T. Wojcik,
    • Yevgeniy B. Sirotin
    Wojcik and Sirotin explore how rats compare concentrations of different odors. They show that rats classify odor concentrations using perceived intensity with a single criterion separating high- and low-intensity percepts. Their findings indicate a systematic link between neural representations of different odors.
  • Voice-Sensitive Regions in the Dog and Human Brain Are Revealed by Comparative fMRI

    • Attila Andics,
    • Márta Gácsi,
    • Tamás Faragó,
    • Anna Kis,
    • Ádám Miklósi
    By comparative neuroimaging, Andics et al. demonstrate functional analogies between dogs’ and humans’ vocalization-sensitive auditory cortex for processing conspecificity and emotional states. Voice areas may have evolved in dogs’ and humans’ common ancestor some 100 million years ago.
  • Homeostatic Actin Cytoskeleton Networks Are Regulated by Assembly Factor Competition for Monomers

    • Thomas A. Burke,
    • Jenna R. Christensen,
    • Elisabeth Barone,
    • Cristian Suarez,
    • Vladimir Sirotkin,
    • David R. Kovar
    Burke et al. show that depletion of either Arp2/3 complex or formin in fission yeast dramatically enhances actin assembly by the remaining nucleation factors. The actin cytoskeleton is therefore in homeostasis, whereby competition for actin monomers is critical for regulating the density and size of diverse F-actin networks.
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