Animals and the zoogeochemistry of the carbon cycle
Predicting and managing the global carbon cycle requires scientific understanding of ecosystem processes that control carbon uptake and storage. It is generally assumed that carbon cycling is sufficiently characterized in terms of uptake and exchange between ecosystem plant and soil pools and the atmosphere. We show that animals also play an important role by mediating carbon exchange between ecosystems and the atmosphere, at times turning ecosystem carbon sources into sinks, or vice versa. Animals also move across landscapes, creating a dynamism that shapes landscape-scale variation in carbon exchange and storage. Predicting and measuring carbon cycling under such dynamism is an important scientific challenge. We explain how to link analyses of spatial ecosystem functioning, animal movement, and remote sensing of animal habitats with carbon dynamics across landscapes.
Viscous control of cellular respiration by membrane lipid composition
Lipid composition determines the physical properties of biological membranes and can vary substantially between and within organisms. We describe a specific role for the viscosity of energy-transducing membranes in cellular respiration. Engineering of fatty acid biosynthesis in Escherichia coli allowed us to titrate inner membrane viscosity across a 10-fold range by controlling the abundance of unsaturated or branched lipids.
Quantifying the contribution of recessive coding variation to developmental disorders
We estimated the genome-wide contribution of recessive coding variation in 6040 families from the Deciphering Developmental Disorders study. The proportion of cases attributable to recessive coding variants was 3.6% in patients of European ancestry, compared with 50% explained by de novo coding mutations. It was higher (31%) in patients with Pakistani ancestry, owing to elevated autozygosity. Half of this recessive burden is attributable to known genes.
Photonic crystals for nano-light in moire graphene superlattices
Graphene is an atomically thin plasmonic medium that supports highly confined plasmon polaritons, or nano-light, with very low loss. Electronic properties of graphene can be drastically altered when it is laid upon another graphene layer, resulting in a moiré superlattice. The relative twist angle between the two layers is a key tuning parameter of the interlayer coupling in thus-obtained twisted bilayer graphene (TBG). We studied the propagation of plasmon polaritons in TBG by infrared nano-imaging.