DOI-assigned graphical abstracts created & published by PubDraw.

Trypophobia & social anxiety.

Do you have an aversion to the seed head of the lotus flower or honeycomb? If so, you might also get nervous about the situation that you are looked at by many people. The traits which make you uncomfortable with them are social anxiety and trypophobia

Treating hemophilia with gene therapy

Hemophilia B is a rare, and recessive X-linked disease characterized by a deficiency of coagulation factor IX. A safe non-viral transfection method based on nucleofection to express and secrete human clotting factor IX, was used. hFIX levels in the blood of NSG mice injected with ASCs transfected with this vector, were 2.7 ng/mL 48 hours after injection.

Exercise treats workplace burnout

Exercise is an effective method of reducing workplace burnout and psychological stress. Cardiovascular exercise reduced negative feelings of burnout and stress. Resistance exercise helped to promote positive aspects of emotional well-being and self accomplishment.

Sea star wasting disease pandemic

Some mutations are harmful to an organism, yet under certain circumstances can protect an individual when challenged by disease or toxins. Identifying the environment in which this unusual type of diversity is maintained can be difficult. During a high-mortality pandemic of “sea star wasting disease” we identified an association between such diversity in an elongation factor gene, and the health of ochre sea stars (Pisaster ochraceus). Individuals carrying this diversity may be better able to survive the current pandemic, but with important fitness costs for the species as a whole.

Contamination in the Yangtze River Delta

Six wildlife species of amphibians, fish and birds were sampled and screened for organohalogen contaminants (OHCs) in a paddy field in Yangtze River Delta, China. High contaminations of chlorinated paraffins were found particularly in terrestrial species. A novel pattern of PCBs with relatively high contribution from octa-CBs to decaCB was observed. A new group of OHCs, with 5–8 chlorines, were found but are not yet structurally confirmed. DDTs was the major organochlorine pesticide contaminant in wildlife. The results show an extensive contamination of OHCs in wildlife in Yangtze River Delta, calling for further (eco)toxicology study and environmental monitoring.

Reducing the effect of agriculture on biodiversity.

There are two models for reducing the impact of agriculture on biodiversity: land sparing and land sharing. Their success depends on edge effects and fragmentation of patches of farm vs habitat. Land sparing worked the best for preserving biodiversity in birds.

Plasticity in European pool frogs

Organisms can respond to climate change threats by moving to new areas or by responding in situ to the new environmental conditions. Plasticity, the capacity of organisms to respond to changes in environment by adjusting their phenotypes to the new conditions without changing their genetic composition, can be crucial for responding to climate change. This study reveals the maintenance of high levels of developmental plasticity in isolated, marginal populations, suggesting that they may be better able to respond to environmental change than often predicted.

Loss of the web & spider diversification

Spiders are an incredibly ancient and diverse group of arthropods comprising over 45,000 described species; by all counts they are the largest known animal group that is exclusively predatory. They build many different kinds of webs: orb, sheet, tube, tangle….but many species don’t build a web at all and instead hunt them directly from the ground or on vegetation. The orb web, the spiral wheel-shaped web made by many spider species, has been considered “the crowning achievement of aerial spiders” by evolutionary biologists. This achievement could may have produced an explosion in diversification (i.e. the “speed” at which new spider spcecies emerged through time). Using a snapshot of expressed genes from the messenger RNA in spider species representing a behaviorally diverse subset of spider families, we tested this hypothesis. Losing the aerial orb web in favor of hunting on the ground coincided with a tremendous burst of speciation in spiders. This appears to have happened about the same time as increases in ground dwelling insect diversity during the Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution (KTR).

Defining & improving sandboxes

Sandboxing is a software security sub-discipline that doesn't have a specific definition. By studying a large dataset of papers within the sandboxing discipline, researchers first established a definition for the term. However, the study also found areas for improvement within the discipline: (1) the arguments researchers present are often ad hoc and (2) sandbox usability is mostly uncharted territory. We propose ways to structure arguments to ensure they fully support their corresponding claims and suggest lightweight means of evaluating sandbox usability.

Iflaviruses hitchhike in baculoviruses

Iflaviruses are small RNA viruses that infect caterpillars and are transferred vertically, from parent to offspring. Baculoviruses, on the other hand, infect and kill caterpillars to release more virus particles for horizontal transmission. These infectious particles are protected by protein occlusion bodies (OBs). In co-infected hosts, iflaviruses use baculovirus OBs to achieve horizontal transmission.

The Dark Triad is actually a dyad of dark traits

Current notions of people’s malevolent or dark character suggest three distinct traits: Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy. However, using dark profiles (i.e., individuals combination of these three dark traits) rather than linear statistics, we here demonstrate that the individuals who are high in Machiavellianism and psychopathy share a unified non-agentic and uncooperative character (i.e., irresponsible, low in self-control, unempathetic, unhelpful, untolerant), while individuals high in narcissism have a more unique character configuration expressed as high agency and, when the other dark traits are high, highly spiritual but uncooperative. In other words, based on differences in their associations to the light side of character (i.e., a ternary construct: self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence), the Dark Triad seems to be a dyad rather than a triad.

Late Pleistocene freshwater fish in Bell Cave

The Tennessee River Basin is one of the most important freshwater fish biodiversity hotspots, but little is known regarding the fossil record of fishes from this area. This study fills in the zoological history through the identification, processing, and reporting of 41 unique species from 10 sites that span the entire basin over the last part of the Pleistocene ice age (10,000 to 30,000 years ago). This study represents one of the most comprehensive descriptions of North American late Pleistocene fishes and provides evidence of early assemblage structure, several extirpation events resulting from ice sheet recession, and little known extinct taxa.

What differentiates strains of Peregrinibacteria?

In this manuscript, we present the first ever strain-resolved complete genomes from metagenomics for five members of the bacterial phylum Peregrinibacteria, that were sampled from filtered groundwater obtained from an aquifer adjacent to the Colorado River near the town of Rifle, CO, USA. Importantly, strain-variation in these bacteria is not observed in their ribosomal rRNA, rather it manifests primarily in large extracellular proteins which may function in attachment to other cells.

Effectiveness of intervention studies in veterinary medicine don’t work well

Top Veterinary journals were compared to top medical journals. Veterinary articles had several deficiencies that may limit the validity of the interventions used in veterinary medicine. There is urgent need of improving the research performed in veterinary medicine, by improving methodology and number of randomized trials and by enrolling real clinical patients.

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) concentration in fish

This is a study that is an overview of the global patterns of concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in marine finfish. Based on this review of 100s of peer-reviewed studies, we show three major items: (1) POPs are in seafood from across the world's oceans. (2) Despite the ubiquitous presence of POPs, the concentration in the consumable meat of marine finfish is highly variable. Within one region and one group of fish species, we may find concentrations of POPs that vary by 1000-fold. (3) By looking at these data through time, we show that the concentration of POPs have been dropping consistently for the past 30 years at a rate of 15-30% per decade.

The Enemy Within: The Challenge of Domestic Terrorism

Since 9/11, the American media has focused attention on the possibility of "homegrown" terrorist threats. Despite media focus on the Muslim community as a source of domestic terrorism, terrorist acts associated with Islamic fundamentalists only account for 2.3% of all attacks occurring between 2000-2009. Right-wing groups, in the form of sovereign and militia movements, and left-wing groups, in the form of environmentalism, remain legitimate threats. On the other hand, the overall number of domestic terrorist acts has decreased since the 1970s, while lethality of—that is, the number of deaths caused by—these acts has increased.

Cysteine proteases in red flour beetle digestion

Gene expression data was used to identify key enzymes in the gut of a major storage pest, the red flour beetle. The expression of genes encoding enzymes in the major feeding stages, larvae and adults, was compared to that of non-feeding stages, eggs and pupae. The data contribute to the comprehensive study of protein digestion in the beetle and identify key enzymes to target for pest control strategies.

Invasive alien species found in Xinjiang, China

Xinjiang is a region which is the furthest region from the oceans and used to be an isolated area; Xinjiang is a poorly-known region for invasive species. Surprisingly we found the area has invaded by hundreds of alien species already and the economic and ecological impacts of those alien species are profound.

Geographic barriers determine hummingbird species distribution

Glacial cycles during the last Ice Age induced changes in the distribution of species. When distribution ranges expand, closely related species might get in contact and interbreed. By documenting higher historical levels of migration of the nuclear genome between species compared to contemporary levels, researchers suggest that current genetic structure resulted form limited dispersal across the isthmus and depression barriers.

Anti – drug resistance molecules target both ribosomes & cell membrane

Differential scanning calorimetry of whole Escherichia coli treated with the antimicrobial peptide MSI-78 indicate a multi-hit mechanism with ribosomes as a novel target. Drug resistant infections are becoming a huge problem and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), have been proposed to be useful for designing new antibiotics that will be less susceptible to resistance development. Most researchers focus on how AMPs interact with the lipid bilayer of bacteria. Using a technique (differential scanning calorimetry = DSC) to study the effect of one AMP (MSI-78) on all parts of the bacteria, researchers found MSI-78 doesn’t just target lipid bilayers - it messes up ribosomes as well.

Embryonic cell division & the vitelline membrane

On the embryonic cell division beyond the contractile ring mechanism: experimental and computational investigation of effects of vitelline confinement, temperature and egg size. The first embryonic cell division is predominantly driven by contraction of the cleavage furrow. Eggs of different species show remarkably different deformation patterns during the cell division. Deformation of dividing cells depends on interplay of vitelline membrane, environmental temperature and physical dimensions of the egg and mitotic spindle.

Academic inequality: country reputation controls publishing

Academic inequality through the lens of community ecology: a meta-analysis. A synthesis based on ecological meta-analysis papers found that author diversity in terms of author affiliation has little increased and rather country reputation was more powerful than the popularity of the scientific topic and affected the chance of publication.

Cognitive factors influence self-reported vision

Trail Making Test performance contributes to subjective judgment of visual efficiency in older adults. When we provide a subjective judgment on our own vision (‘How would you rate your vision?') this judgement is determined by several factors, one very important is of course your visual acuity (ie. what you get at the ophthalmologist) but there are higher level factors that play a part. These higher level factors are for example how able you are to use the good or poor vision that you have in tasks with different demands. What we tried to do is use a quite basic visual task requiring cognitive input (Trail Making Test) and show that performance on this test predicts (to some extent) the answer to the How would you rate your vision question. We argue that this indicates that people are (somehow) considering this ‘higher level’ when judging their own vision.

Interbreeding grasshoppers exchange bacterial genomes

Wolbachia co-infection in a hybrid zone: discovery of horizontal gene transfers from two Wolbachia supergroups into an animal genome. Two subspecies of Chorthippus parallelus grasshoppers (Cpp and Cpe) are infected with two different strains of a bacteria called Wolbachia. When Cpp and Cpe interbreed in a hybrid zone between France and Spain, the hybrid grasshoppers can acquire both types of Wolbachia. By studying the genomes of hybrid grasshoppers, researchers found that genes from both Wolbachia strains have moved from the bacterial genome into the grasshopper genome.

Linking phenotype and environment

The way an organism looks and behaves is a result of its genes and its environment. We can't understand this interaction without combining data about an organism's characteristics and its environment, which is very hard because these two data types are so different. This paper describes the challenges and makes suggestions about how to overcome them.

Why bigger muscles are stronger

Biomechanical implications of skeletal muscle hypertrophy and atrophy: A musculoskeletal model. It is well-known that a bigger muscle allows for greater joint moment production capabilities. The reasons for this have often been attributed a larger muscle being able to create more force, and while this is true, it ignores another, just as important factor: the muscle's moment arm (or mechanical advantage). We created a theoretical, mathematical, musculoskeletal model of the biceps brachii and brachialis that were modeled to grow (hypertrophy) and shrink (atrophy), and we found that, by changing the muscle's size, it also changes the muscle's moment arm (or mechanical advantage). This is another factor that determines strength that should be considered.

We might be wrong about marine protected areas

Pathways from marine protected area design and management to ecological success. Five main conditions often thought to influence marine protected area (MPA) performance – their size, age, and degree of isolation; and the presence of no-take fishing regulations and effective enforcement – helped explain the presence of high fish biomass and species diversity in only about one-third of global MPAs. Those conditions were, however, central in preventing further declines of large fish typically targeted in commercial fisheries. Ecological isolation was overwhelming the single most important condition affecting MPA performance, highlighting the importance of carefully selecting and designing MPAs.

Rapid response limited EBOLA outbreak

Rapid drop in the reproduction number during the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo In 2014, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) experienced a confined outbreak of Ebola that was unrelated to the epidemic in West Africa. A researcher used mathematical models to study the average number of new infections that were caused by infectious persons over the course of the outbreak. The findings show that the outbreak was brought under control within four weeks, supporting the notion that a rapid response limited further spread of Ebola in DRC.

Predator diet determines prey behavior

The smell of success: the amount of prey consumed by predators determines the strength and range of cascading non-consumptive effects Predators can affect prey behavior through chemical cues based on predator diets: the more a predator consumes, the less the prey will eat within certain ranges from the predator. These effects are called non-consumptive effects (NCE's). This study determined that NCE's are both diet and distance dependent.

Computers can measure coral reef beauty

Can we measure beauty? Computational evaluation of coral reef aesthetics. Computers can identify visual features that humans find aesthetically-pleasing. Researchers used this to identify 109 such features to assess the aesthetic value of coral reefs; the main categories were size and distribution of objects, color brightness and hue distribution, and texture. The results of studying 2000 images showed that the aesthetic values assigned to the reefs ultimately correlated to their health scores.

OSM: A worldwide collaboration to cure malaria

Highly Potent Antimalarial Compounds Derived from the GlaxoSmithKline Tres Cantos Arylpyrroles. Researchers made several molecules, and measured the ability of those molecules to kill the parasite that causes malaria. Many people have contributed from around the world (47 authors, 8 countries) using a publicly-available online "labbook". The molecules were very capable of killing the parasite, but didn’t quite perform well enough in a malaria-infected mouse to proceed any further.

Humans have personalized microbial clouds

Humans differ in their personal microbial cloud. We each give off millions of bacteria from our human microbiome to the air around us every day, and that cloud of bacteria can be traced back to an individual. To test this, researchers sequenced microbes from the air surrounding 11 different people in a sanitized experimental chamber.

Natural products: better, but difficult drug discovery

Discovery and resupply of pharmacologically active plant-derived natural products: A review. While natural product-based drug discovery and development represents a complex endeavor demanding a highly integrated interdisciplinary approach, the recent scientific developments, technological advances, and research trends clearly indicate that natural products will be among the most important sources of new drugs also in the future.