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This Week in Nature: Jul 24, 2008

Nature this week has a series of articles looking at scientific and technological innovation in China. With its economy growing consistently by around 10% annually, China is on its way to surpassing established leaders like the US, Japan, and Germany. A news story looks at whether China can actually meet its goals in space exploration, environment, research, energy, and health, as well as address global climate change. Innovation is one of the biggest challenges. "You need a certain culture to support an innovative business environment," says Lan Xue, a science policy specialist at Tsinghua University, "and those things change much more slowly."

Two commentaries take a deeper look at the idea of innovation in China. One, by Xue, wonders how China -- and other developing countries -- can be innovative without caving to Western ideas of scientific merit, and another interviews Chinese businesspeople and scientists on their ideas of what it will take for China to become a science superpower. An essay says that the era of national science superpowers is over, due to the advent of big science and the push for commercialization.

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory have published results of a genome-wide recombination map in yeast. The maps are the "first high-resolution, genome-wide characterization of the multiple outcomes of recombination in any organism," and score 52,000 polymorphisms that capture 6,289 recombination events, including crossovers, crossover-associated gene conversion, and non-crossover gene conversion. The work "allowed them to address several long-standing issues in meiotic recombination," says a related News and Views article.

Martin Beye and colleagues have found a new gene in the honeybee sex-determining pathway called feminizer (fem), located 12 kilobases upstream of the complementary sex determiner (csd) gene. Using RNAi, they show that knocking down the female-specific fem splice variant results in male bees, indicating that the fem product is required for entire female development.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.