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A white bowl of pink rice grains.

The hybrid beef–rice is pink because the cell-culture medium contains phenol red, an acidity monitor.Credit: Yonsei University

Beef muscle and fat cells have been grown in the lab using rice as a supporting material — with edible results. “It was definitely different from regular rice,” says chemical engineer and study co-author Sohyeon Park. “It was more nutty and harder.” The beef-rice has a slightly higher fat and protein content than standard rice and could find use as a supplement for food-insecure communities.

Nature | 4 min read

Reference: Matter paper

A combination of a strong El Niño climate pattern, rampant planting of non-native trees and climate change all have contributed to the deadly wildfires that tore through Chile, Colombia and Argentina this year. “We are very worried, because each new fire is bigger, more threatening and with an ever-greater impact,” says environmental scientist Francisco de la Barrera. Some researchers are calling for preventative action such as reducing fire risk on the edges of cities by replacing invasive trees with native species that are less susceptible to fire.

Nature | 5 min read

The impact of cigarettes on the immune system lingers long after people have stopped smoking. Researchers measured 1,000 people’s immune responses by exposing blood samples to various molecules or pathogens. Apart from cigarette smoking, having a relatively high body mass index and having previously been infected with the typically benign cytomegalovirus also seem to affect the immune response. “It makes me wonder how much detail we should consider when we are looking at targeted therapy or personalized medicine,” says geneticist Vinod Kumar.

Nature | 4 min read

Get the expert view from genomics researcher Yang Luo and Simon Stent in the Nature News & Views article (6 min read, Nature paywall)

Reference: Nature paper

A reconstruction of nearly 9 billion years of cosmic evolution supports the standard model of cosmology, which suggests that mysterious dark matter is the main factor shaping the Universe’s structure. Astronomers traced the X-ray glow of distant galaxy clusters using the most detailed X-ray map of the sky, captured by the eROSITA space telescope. It allowed them to calculate parameters such as ‘lumpiness’ — how much the total mass of matter has concentrated in the cosmic web at any given time due to gravity, especially that of dark matter.

Nature | 5 min read

Reference: arXiv preprint (not peer reviewed)

A colourful view of the universe as seen with the eROSITA X-ray telescope

eROSITA has mapped more than one million sources of X-rays.Credit: Jeremy Sanders, Hermann Brunner, eSASS team (MPE); Eugene Churazov, Marat Gilfanov (IKI)

Features & opinion

Mental health is part of the UN Sustainable Development Goal for ‘good health and well-being’. But there is a large gap between what is needed and what is available, says psychiatrist Shekhar Saxena. In some countries, including India and the United States, suicide rates among young people are rising rapidly. “It reflects the society that we live in where a young person does not feel that life is worth living,” says Saxena. He argues that socioeconomic policies and community-led initiatives are needed to prevent mental disorders early.

Nature Careers Podcast | 29 min listen

Scientists are starting to piece together the story of the first human settlers of the Canary Islands, who arrived from North Africa some 1800 years ago. Life on the dry volcanic islands was probably challenging — one island’s population crashed around the 9th century, and many skulls bear the marks of violence. But the islanders were remarkably adaptable, reinventing tools in the absence of metal ores and creating elaborate art. “I imagine the lives of those people as profoundly linked to the natural world,” says archaeobotanist Jacob Morales. Canarians remained largely isolated until Europeans arrived in the 14th century and all but erased them. Only traces of their genetics remain in modern islanders, who have on average between 15% and 20% of DNA from Indigenous sources.

Science | 12 min read

Nature’s editors feel that engineering research has been underrepresented, even neglected, in the journal — something they want to change. “We want the world of engineering to know that its research, whether as a proof of concept or at the implementation stage, will be considered,” says a Nature editorial.

Nature | 5 min read

Where I work

A smiling young woman wearing shorts and sandals with a blue t-shirt and a cream sunhat crouches on a sandy beach while holding a stainless steel sieve. It is a sunny day with blue skies, and the sea is breaking gently behind her.

Carol Simon

“I was supposed to study aspects of abalone farming, but soon found the indigenous or invasive worms that sometimes live on abalone far more interesting,” says marine biologist Carol Simon. Since 2009, she has helped to describe 21 species of these South African bristle worms that were new to science. “Some are so tiny that you can only see them clearly under a microscope. Others are an arm’s length long and as thick as my thumb.” (Nature Africa | 3 min read)

Quote of the day

Most people suffer from ‘plant blindness’ and consequently ‘time blindness’, says philosopher and artist Jonathon Keats. An ‘arboreal clock’ incorporates time as experienced by some of the oldest trees on the planet, to help humanity reconnect with its environment. (Noema | 13 min read)

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