[Perspective] One step closer to O2

A crucial step in photosynthesis is becoming clearer [Also see Report by Cox et al.] Authors: R. David Britt, Paul H. Oyala

[Editorial] Maternal mental illness

In the United States, more than half a million women experience postpartum depression every year; among teens and low-income mothers, the rate is one in four. For many depressed mothers, symptoms begin during pregnancy and may also include disabling anxiety. In addition, maternal mental illness adversely affects infant brain development and subsequent social and emotional health as a result of inadequate prenatal care, poor birth outcomes, and impaired parenting practices. The broad implications of these disorders have led several states to require perinatal depression screening and/or education. Also, a provision of the U.S. Affordable Care Act calls for further research on screening and treatment. These policies are a good start, but laws already on the books must be adequately funded and evaluated. In addition, there are immediate policy actions that can be taken to improve the well-being of mothers and families. Authors: Katy B. Kozhimannil, Helen Kim

[Special Issue Review] Parenting from before conception

At fertilization, the gametes endow the embryo with a genomic blueprint, the integrity of which is affected by the age and environmental exposures of both parents. Recent studies reveal that parental history and experiences also exert effects through epigenomic information not contained in the DNA sequence, including variations in sperm and oocyte cytosine methylation and chromatin patterning, noncoding RNAs, and mitochondria. Transgenerational epigenetic effects interact with conditions at conception to program the developmental trajectory of the embryo and fetus, ultimately affecting the lifetime health of the child. These insights compel us to revise generally held notions to accommodate the prospect that biological parenting commences well before birth, even prior to conception. Authors: Michelle Lane, Rebecca L. Robker, Sarah A. Robertson

[Special Issue Review] Preterm labor: One syndrome, many causes

Preterm birth is associated with 5 to 18% of pregnancies and is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality. Spontaneous preterm labor, a syndrome caused by multiple pathologic processes, leads to 70% of preterm births. The prevention and the treatment of preterm labor have been long-standing challenges. We summarize the current understanding of the mechanisms of disease implicated in this condition and review advances relevant to intra-amniotic infection, decidual senescence, and breakdown of maternal-fetal tolerance. The success of progestogen treatment to prevent preterm birth in a subset of patients at risk is a cause for optimism. Solving the mystery of preterm labor, which compromises the health of future generations, is a formidable scientific challenge worthy of investment. Authors: Roberto Romero, Sudhansu K. Dey, Susan J. Fisher

[Special Issue Review] Neural control of maternal and paternal behaviors

Parental care, including feeding and protection of young, is essential for the survival as well as mental and physical well-being of the offspring. A large variety of parental behaviors has been described across species and sexes, raising fascinating questions about how animals identify the young and how brain circuits drive and modulate parental displays in males and females. Recent studies have begun to uncover a striking antagonistic interplay between brain systems underlying parental care and infant-directed aggression in both males and females, as well as a large range of intrinsic and environmentally driven neural modulation and plasticity. Improved understanding of the neural control of parental interactions in animals should provide novel insights into the complex issue of human parental care in both health and disease. Authors: Catherine Dulac, Lauren A. O’Connell, Zheng Wu

[Special Issue Review] The biology of mammalian parenting and its effect on offspring social development

Parents know the transformative nature of having and caring for a child. Among many mammals, giving birth leads from an aversion to infant stimuli to irresistible attraction. Here, we review the biological mechanisms governing this shift in parental motivation in mammals. Estrogen and progesterone prepare the uterus for embryo implantation and placental development. Prolactin stimulates milk production, whereas oxytocin initiates labor and triggers milk ejection during nursing. These same molecules, interacting with dopamine, also activate specific neural pathways to motivate parents to nurture, bond with, and protect their offspring. Parenting in turn shapes the neural development of the infant social brain. Recent work suggests that many of the principles governing parental behavior and its effect on infant development are conserved from rodent to humans. Authors: James K. Rilling, Larry J. Young

[Special Issue Review] The evolution of flexible parenting

Parenting behaviors, such as the provisioning of food by parents to offspring, are known to be highly responsive to changes in environment. However, we currently know little about how such flexibility affects the ways in which parenting is adapted and evolves in response to environmental variation. This is because few studies quantify how individuals vary in their response to changing environments, especially social environments created by other individuals with which parents interact. Social environmental factors differ from nonsocial factors, such as food availability, because parents and offspring both contribute and respond to the social environment they experience. This interdependence leads to the coevolution of flexible behaviors involved in parenting, which could, paradoxically, constrain the ability of individuals to rapidly adapt to changes in their nonsocial environment. Authors: Nick J. Royle, Andrew F. Russell, Alastair J. Wilson

This Week in Science

Large-scale robotic self-assembly | Nerve cells displaying extra large spaces | Can you spot a speck of space dust? | A potential target in a deadly brain cancer | Strangleweed shares too much information | A breathtaking tale of sticky mucus | A Swiss Army knife for treating sepsis | The future of RNA origami writ large | Sourcing corrosive sewer sulfides | The nutritional sins of the mother… | Clues to a mystery with RAVE results | Setting the stage for release of oxygen | Factor in oocyte assists reprogramming | Epigenetics direct transdifferentiation | Toward an “artificial cell” on a chip

Editors' Choice

Stitching mRNA back together again | A sweet decline for the aging fly brain | The cost of economic growth | Steering an optical signal without wires | Coatings keep gunk off nanoparticles | How infection rate determines virus spread | Looking beneath the drying surface | Mercury levels in surface ocean tripled

[Research Article] In utero undernourishment perturbs the adult sperm methylome and intergenerational metabolism

Prenatal assaults change DNA methylation and chromatin structure in sperm and affect offspring. [Also see Perspective by Susiarjo and Bartolomei] Authors: Elizabeth J. Radford, Mitsuteru Ito, Hui Shi, Jennifer A. Corish, Kazuki Yamazawa, Elvira Isganaitis, Stefanie Seisenberger, Timothy A. Hore, Wolf Reik, Serap Erkek, Antoine H. F. M. Peters, Mary-Elizabeth Patti, Anne C. Ferguson-Smith

[Research Article] Evidence for interstellar origin of seven dust particles collected by the Stardust spacecraft

Analysis of seven particles captured by aerogel and foil reveals diverse characteristics not conforming to a single model. Authors: Andrew J. Westphal, Rhonda M. Stroud, Hans A. Bechtel, Frank E. Brenker, Anna L. Butterworth, George J. Flynn, David R. Frank, Zack Gainsforth, Jon K. Hillier, Frank Postberg, Alexandre S. Simionovici, Veerle J. Sterken, Larry R. Nittler, Carlton Allen, David Anderson, Asna Ansari, Saša Bajt, Ron K. Bastien, Nabil Bassim, John Bridges, Donald E. Brownlee, Mark Burchell, Manfred Burghammer, Hitesh Changela, Peter Cloetens, Andrew M. Davis, Ryan Doll, Christine Floss, Eberhard Grün, Philipp R. Heck, Peter Hoppe, Bruce Hudson, Joachim Huth, Anton Kearsley, Ashley J. King, Barry Lai, Jan Leitner, Laurence Lemelle, Ariel Leonard, Hugues Leroux, Robert Lettieri, William Marchant, Ryan Ogliore, Wei Jia Ong, Mark C. Price, Scott A. Sandford, Juan-Angel Sans Tresseras, Sylvia Schmitz, Tom Schoonjans, Kate Schreiber, Geert Silversmit, Vicente A. Solé, Ralf Srama, Frank Stadermann, Thomas Stephan, Julien Stodolna, Stephen Sutton, Mario Trieloff, Peter Tsou, Tolek Tyliszczak, Bart Vekemans, Laszlo Vincze, Joshua Von Korff, Naomi Wordsworth, Daniel Zevin, Michael E. Zolensky,

[Report] Pseudo–three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm

The map of an absorption line with unknown origins correlates well with a map of extinction by interstellar dust. Authors: Janez Kos, Tomaž Zwitter, Rosemary Wyse, Olivier Bienaymé, James Binney, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Kenneth Freeman, Brad K. Gibson, Gerry Gilmore, Eva K. Grebel, Amina Helmi, Georges Kordopatis, Ulisse Munari, Julio Navarro, Quentin Parker, Warren A. Reid, George Seabroke, Sanjib Sharma, Arnaud Siebert, Alessandro Siviero, Matthias Steinmetz, Fred G. Watson, Mary E. K. Williams

[Report] Impaired mucus detachment disrupts mucociliary transport in a piglet model of cystic fibrosis

Lung disease in pigs with cystic fibrosis is caused by aberrant tethering of mucus to the airway glands that produce it. [Also see Perspective by Wine] Authors: Mark J. Hoegger, Anthony J. Fischer, James D. McMenimen, Lynda S. Ostedgaard, Alex J. Tucker, Maged A. Awadalla, Thomas O. Moninger, Andrew S. Michalski, Eric A. Hoffman, Joseph Zabner, David A. Stoltz, Michael J. Welsh

[New Products] New Products

A weekly roundup of information on newly offered instrumentation, apparatus, and laboratory materials of potential interest to researchers.

[Editorial] In praise of power

The importance of energy for development is underscored by the United Nations declaration of 2014 to 2024 as the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All. Among the goals is to provide universal access to electricity and clean cooking. Each laudable in itself, the two goals actually overlap. Author: Kirk R. Smith

[In Depth] Inflammation debate reignites

Reanalyzing same data, paper challenges controversial study casting doubt on use of mouse models. Author: Mitch Leslie