Educational policies may increase or decrease health differences, depending on whether they reinforce or counteract gene-related differences. We investigate whether one such policy affected health differently for people with different genetic backgrounds. We find that the additional education generated by the policy benefited those with higher genetic risk of obesity the most, reducing the gap in unhealthy body size between those in the top and bottom terciles of genetic risk of obesity from 20 to 6 percentage points.

The mode and tempo of extinctions and extirpations after the first contact phase of human settlements is a widely debated topic. As the last major landmass to be settled by humans, New Zealand offers a unique lens through which to study interactions of people and biota. By analyzing ancient DNA from more than 5,000 nondiagnostic and fragmented bones from 38 subfossil assemblages, we describe species and patterns that have been missed by morphological approaches.

The existence of a chemosynthetic subseafloor biosphere was immediately recognized when deep-sea hot springs were discovered in 1977. However, quantifying how much new carbon is fixed in this environment has remained elusive. In this study, we incubated natural subseafloor communities under in situ pressure/temperature and measured their chemosynthetic growth efficiency and metabolic rates. Combining these data with fluid flux and in situ chemical measurements, we derived empirical constraints on chemosynthetic activity in the natural environment.

Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous in the modern world but pose a global environmental problem. While plastics such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) are highly versatile, their resistance to natural degradation presents a serious, growing risk to fauna and flora, particularly in marine environments. Here, we have characterized the 3D structure of a newly discovered enzyme that can digest highly crystalline PET, the primary material used in the manufacture of single-use plastic beverage bottles, in some clothing, and in carpets.

Antibiotic use more than doubled in India between 2000 and 2015, fuelling antibiotic resistance that is making common infections such as E.coli, strep throat, pneumonia and tuberculosis more difficult to treat, according to this new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Satellite altimetry has shown that global mean sea level has been rising at a rate of ∼3 ± 0.4 mm/y since 1993. Using the altimeter record coupled with careful consideration of interannual and decadal variability as well as potential instrument errors, we show that this rate is accelerating at 0.084 ± 0.025 mm/y2, which agrees well with climate model projections. If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, sea-level rise by 2100 (∼65 cm) will be more than double the amount if the rate was constant at 3 mm/y.

E-cigarette smoke (ECS) delivers nicotine through aerosols without burning tobacco. ECS is promoted as noncarcinogenic. We found that ECS induces DNA damage in mouse lung, bladder, and heart and reduces DNA-repair functions and proteins in lung. Nicotine and its nitrosation product 4-(methylnitrosamine)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone can cause the same effects as ECS and enhance mutations and tumorigenic cell transformation in cultured human lung and bladder cells.

We increasingly rely on global models to project impacts of humans and climate on water resources. How reliable are these models? While past model intercomparison projects focused on water fluxes, we provide here the first comprehensive comparison of land total water storage trends from seven global models to trends from Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which have been likened to giant weighing scales in the sky.

US agriculture was modeled to determine impacts of removing farmed animals on food supply adequacy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The modeled system without animals increased total food production (23%), altered foods available for domestic consumption, and decreased agricultural US GHGs (28%), but only reduced total US GHG by 2.6 percentage units. Compared with systems with animals, diets formulated for the US population in the plants-only systems had greater excess of dietary energy and resulted in a greater number of deficiencies in essential nutrients.

Conflicting sets of hypotheses highlight either the role of ice sheets or atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in causing the increase in duration and severity of ice age cycles ∼1 Mya during the Mid-Pleistocene Transition (MPT). We document early MPT CO2 cycles that were smaller than during recent ice age cycles. Using model simulations, we attribute this to post-MPT increase in glacial-stage dustiness and its effect on Southern Ocean productivity.

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