Thomas Pfeiffer and Robert Hoffmann (Harvard University
and Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have evidence that
when a scientific research topic is more popular, or when multiple
scientists investigate the same topic, published results from
the research are more likely to be erroneous.
This news feature was written on June 26, 2009.... Read more »
Pfeiffer, T., & Hoffmann, R. (2009) Large-Scale Assessment of the Effect of Popularity on the Reliability of Research. PLoS ONE, 4(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005996
People love living on the coast, and one of the most destructive human infrastructure practices is replacing natural shorelines with human-made seawalls. These walls are often tall, flat, and featureless, making them bad habitat for shore animals and plants. Biodiversity in these areas, of course, declines.
In a paper published online today in Oecologia, Gee Chapman [...]... Read more »
M. G. Chapman, & D. J. Blockley. (2009) Engineering novel habitats on urban infrastructure to increase intertidal biodiversity. Oecologia.
The new study identifies 27 loci that have rare copy number variations, where there are more or fewer repeated DNA segments than expected, common to the genomes of several children with autism spectrum disorder. These variations are not present in controls without autism spectrum disorder.
The peer reviewed paper is available in the Open Access journal PLoS Genetics.
The sample included 2,832 individuals distributed among 912 families that had multiple autistic children. The control grou........ Read more »
Bucan, M., Abrahams, B., Wang, K., Glessner, J., Herman, E., Sonnenblick, L., Alvarez Retuerto, A., Imielinski, M., Hadley, D., Bradfield, J.... (2009) Genome-Wide Analyses of Exonic Copy Number Variants in a Family-Based Study Point to Novel Autism Susceptibility Genes. PLoS Genetics, 5(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000536
by Vincent Racaniello in virology blog
The RNA genome of influenza viruses is segmented . The virions of influenza A and B viruses contain 8 different RNAs, while those of influenza C viruses contain 7. How is the correct number of RNA segments inserted into newly synthesized virus particles?
During influenza virus assembly, viral RNAs and viral proteins – called a ribonucleoprotein [...]... Read more »
Muramoto, Y., Takada, A., Fujii, K., Noda, T., Iwatsuki-Horimoto, K., Watanabe, S., Horimoto, T., Kida, H., & Kawaoka, Y. (2006) Hierarchy among Viral RNA (vRNA) Segments in Their Role in vRNA Incorporation into Influenza A Virions. Journal of Virology, 80(5), 2318-2325. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.80.5.2318-2325.2006
Noda, T., Sagara, H., Yen, A., Takada, A., Kida, H., Cheng, R., & Kawaoka, Y. (2006) Architecture of ribonucleoprotein complexes in influenza A virus particles. Nature, 439(7075), 490-492. DOI: 10.1038/nature04378
Frilander, M. (1995) In VitroPackaging of the Single-stranded RNA Genomic Precursors of the Segmented Double-stranded RNA Bacteriophage ψ: The Three Segments Modulate Each Other's Packaging Efficiency. Journal of Molecular Biology, 246(3), 418-428. DOI: 10.1006/jmbi.1994.0096
If you have passed through the weight-loss aisle at any pharmacy over the past few months, you will probably have seen several products claiming to contain Hoodia gordonii, more commonly known as Hoodia. Hoodia is a type of succulent (a type of plant that looks like a cactus, but is in fact completely different) which is said to have been used by the San Bushmen of the Kalahari desert to ward off hunger and thirst. Hoodia first came to prominence when the South African government discovered th........ Read more »
THE TERM 'HYPNOSIS' was coined by the Scottish physician James Braid in his 1853 book Neurypnology. Braid defined hypnosis as "a peculiar condition of the nervous system, induced by a fixed and abstracted attention of the mental and visual eye". Braid argued that hypnosis was a form of "nervous sleep", and tried to distinguish his theory from that of the mesmerists, who believed that the effects of hypnosis were mediated by a vital force, or animal magnetism.Because of mesmerism, and its associa........ Read more »
Cojan, Y., Waber, L., Schwartz, S., Rossier, L., Forster, A., & Vuilleumier, P. (2009) The Brain under Self-Control: Modulation of Inhibitory and Monitoring Cortical Networks during Hypnotic Paralysis. Neuron, 62(6), 862-875. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.05.021
No doctor likes to think that they are the one who is giving out all these antibiotics to viral illnesses. There is always someone else at fault. Partners blame locums. Locums blame nurses. Everyone blames the patients. Me? I blame the French. They have shamelessly flung antibiotics around for years with Gallic abandon. According to a PLOS paper more than 70 [...]... Read more »
Sabuncu, E., David, J., Bernède-Bauduin, C., Pépin, S., Leroy, M., Boëlle, P., Watier, L., & Guillemot, D. (2009) Significant Reduction of Antibiotic Use in the Community after a Nationwide Campaign in France, 2002–2007. PLoS Medicine, 6(6). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000084
Butler, C., Hood, K., Verheij, T., Little, P., Melbye, H., Nuttall, J., Kelly, M., Molstad, S., Godycki-Cwirko, M., Almirall, J.... (2009) Variation in antibiotic prescribing and its impact on recovery in patients with acute cough in primary care: prospective study in 13 countries. BMJ, 338(jun23 2). DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b2242
Welcome to my “Diabetes Series”! Just like my “Cancer Basics” series I’ll be updating this every so often in order to hopefully make the research a little more palatable for the general public. I hope you like it and you continue to tune in!
Scientists from the Salk Institute have unlocked another piece of the diabetes [...]... Read more »
Wang, Y., Vera, L., Fischer, W., & Montminy, M. (2009) The CREB coactivator CRTC2 links hepatic ER stress and fasting gluconeogenesis. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08111
"I love humanity but I hate people" Edna St. Vincent Millay (American poet and playwright).Psychology hasn't paid enough attention to the regard people have towards humanity - their "humanity-esteem". That's according to Michelle Luke and Gregory Maio whose new research suggests a person's view of humanity can have important social implications, for example affecting their proclivity for racism. If we think highly of humankind, it follows that we're less likely to have a negative attitude to oth........ Read more »
LUKE, M.L., & MAIO, G.R. (2009) Oh the humanity! Humanity-esteem and its social importance. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(4), 586-601. DOI: 10.1016/j.jrp.2009.03.001
Parasites coexisting within a single host have been proposed as one of the best examples of individuals sacrificing their own reproductive fitness for the benefit of a group. A new theory paper in last week's Nature suggests that the apparent effect of "group selection" in this case can be explained by individual-level selection instead [$-a].
Group selection posits that organisms sometimes evolve traits that hurt their individual fitness but benefit their social group. Charles Darwin originall........ Read more »
Cochran G.M., Ewald P.W., & Cochran K.D. (2000) Infectious causation of disease: An evolutionary perspective. Persp. Biol. Medecine, 43(3), 406-48. DOI: 10.1353/pbm.2000.0016
Day, T., & Gandon, S. (2007) Applying population-genetic models in theoretical evolutionary epidemiology. Ecology Letters, 10(10), 876-888. DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01091.x
Wild, G., Gardner, A., & West, S. (2009) Adaptation and the evolution of parasite virulence in a connected world. Nature, 459(7249), 983-986. DOI: 10.1038/nature08071
Wilson, D., & Wilson, E. (2007) Rethinking the theoretical foundation of sociobiology. Quarterly Rev. Biol., 82(4), 327-48. DOI: 10.1086/522809
We know that a lot of organisms, from humans to bacteria to birds to bees, have lots of sex. But what has mystified scientists for years is WHY. I mean, it's fun and all (unless you're a poor beetle girl stuck with this), but what purpose does it serve? On the face of it, in fact, sex seems to be pretty BAD for about half of the population: the women. For example, there's a lizard out there than can reproduce both asexually and sexually. When it reproduces asexually, it producing nothing bu........ Read more »
The twin questions of how and where life could begin from prebiotic chemistry are pretty big ones. Indeed, despite the now famous Miller-Urey experiment creating amino acids by zapping simple chemicals with lightning bolts, we’re not much closer to a proper answer for that question. A good place to look for answers though, is Titan. Out on Titan, methane acts like water does on Earth, and the mountains are made from ice and not silicates. Despite these outlandish differences, many believe that........ Read more »
Pilling, S., Andrade, D., Neto, A., Rittner, R., & Naves de Brito, A. (2009) DNA Nucleobase Synthesis at Titan Atmosphere Analog by Soft X-rays . The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/jp902824v
A Canadian study published in the journal Obesity has found that overweight people are 17% more likely to live longer than those of normal weight. In response, the Daily Mail instructed their readers to fatten up, but I would advise against it.
The study looked at data from the Canadian National Population Health Survey, which monitors [...]... Read more »
Orpana, H., Berthelot, J., Kaplan, M., Feeny, D., McFarland, B., & Ross, N. (2009) BMI and Mortality: Results From a National Longitudinal Study of Canadian Adults. Obesity. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2009.191
Richard Owen's restoration of Glyptodon. From Brinkman (2009).
Perhaps one of the primary reasons that there is so much to say about Charles Darwin is that he left us so much material to scrutinize. Outside of his famous printed works there are numerous notebooks and a staggering amount of personal correspondence which are constantly being parsed for insights into how he formulated his evolutionary ideas. Indeed, there is still scholarly debate about when Darwin embraced the idea of evolution ........ Read more »
Brinkman, P. (2009) Charles Darwin’s Beagle Voyage, Fossil Vertebrate Succession, and “The Gradual Birth . Journal of the History of Biology. DOI: 10.1007/s10739-009-9189-9
Last night I was thinking that it's been quite a week with one thing and another and only Wednesday reached. In fact, the stars must be out of alignment or something because there seems to be rather a lot of...... Read more »
Sjöström, L., Gummesson, A., Sjöström, C., Narbro, K., Peltonen, M., Wedel, H., Bengtsson, C., Bouchard, C., Carlsson, B., & Dahlgren, S. (2009) Effects of bariatric surgery on cancer incidence in obese patients in Sweden (Swedish Obese Subjects Study): a prospective, controlled intervention trial. The Lancet Oncology. DOI: 10.1016/S1470-2045(09)70159-7
Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of June 21, 2009.... Read more »
Elia, J., Gai, X., Xie, H., Perin, J., Geiger, E., Glessner, J., D'arcy, M., deBerardinis, R., Frackelton, E., Kim, C.... (2009) Rare structural variants found in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are preferentially associated with neurodevelopmental genes. Molecular Psychiatry. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.57
Rabl, R., Soubannier, V., Scholz, R., Vogel, F., Mendl, N., Vasiljev-Neumeyer, A., Korner, C., Jagasia, R., Keil, T., Baumeister, W.... (2009) Formation of cristae and crista junctions in mitochondria depends on antagonism between Fcj1 and Su e/g. The Journal of Cell Biology, 185(6), 1047-1063. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200811099
Iwahashi, C., Tassone, F., Hagerman, R., Yasui, D., Parrott, G., Nguyen, D., Mayeur, G., & Hagerman, P. (2009) A Quantitative ELISA Assay for the Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 Protein. Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 11(4), 281-289. DOI: 10.2353/jmoldx.2009.080118
Ghosh, D., Mishra, M., Das, S., Kaushik, D., & Basu, A. (2009) Tobacco carcinogen induces microglial activation and subsequent neuronal damage. Journal of Neurochemistry. DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06203.x
Quite possibly, yes. In the last post I discussed the interesting background to a new paper about the prevalence of autism in British children, Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study. Here's some more about the study itself.The authors, Simon Baron-Cohen et al from the University of Cambridge, set out to assess the prevalence of “autistic spectrum conditions” in the county of Cambridgeshire, England, by sampling all of the school children aged 5 to 9 years........ Read more »
Baron-Cohen, S., Scott, F., Allison, C., Williams, J., Bolton, P., Matthews, F., & Brayne, C. (2009) Prevalence of autism-spectrum conditions: UK school-based population study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 194(6), 500-509. DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.059345
You can boost your quiz performance by unleashing the crowd within, a new study shows. The next time your're asked to estimate a historical date, for example, try doing the following: make your first estimate; then pause and assume your first guess was off the mark. Consider why, then use this new perspective to make a second estimate. Average your two estimates and, chances are, this newly calculated date will be more accurate than your original answer. The new approach is called "dialectical b........ Read more »
Herzog, S., & Hertwig, R. (2009) The Wisdom of Many in One Mind: Improving Individual Judgments With Dialectical Bootstrapping. Psychological Science, 20(2), 231-237. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02271.x
Describes the unique life cycle and evolutionary history of a strange sea slug.... Read more »
Rumpho, M. (2000) Solar-Powered Sea Slugs. Mollusc/Algal Chloroplast Symbiosis. PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 123(1), 29-38. DOI: 10.1104/pp.123.1.29
Pierce, S., Maugel, T., Rumpho, M., Hanten, J., & Mondy, W. (1999) Annual Viral Expression in a Sea Slug Population: Life Cycle Control and Symbiotic Chloroplast Maintenance. Biological Bulletin, 197(1), 1. DOI: 10.2307/1542990
Pierce, S., Massey, S., Hanten, J., & Curtis, N. (2003) Horizontal Transfer of Functional Nuclear Genes between Multicellular Organisms. Biological Bulletin, 204(3), 237. DOI: 10.2307/1543594
Rumpho, M., Worful, J., Lee, J., Kannan, K., Tyler, M., Bhattacharya, D., Moustafa, A., & Manhart, J. (2008) From the Cover: Horizontal gene transfer of the algal nuclear gene psbO to the photosynthetic sea slug Elysia chlorotica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(46), 17867-17871. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0804968105
I wanted to point out an example of research into the biochemistry of calorie restriction as an example of how scientists progress in their investigations of cellular biology. If the cell is a machine, then the biotechnology revolution has provided scientist-mechanics with wrenches to pull out cogs and screwdrivers to force the settings on inner switches. It has also bequethed a ream of disordered notes from a thousand other mechanics, and from all this sense and understanding has to eventually ........ Read more »
Carrano, A., Liu, Z., Dillin, A., & Hunter, T. (2009) A conserved ubiquitination pathway determines longevity in response to diet restriction. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature08130
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