What we're reading


As we head into the weekend, here’s a few things we’ve noticed that might be worth your screen-time:
Scientific publications
Lau, J. A., and J. T. Lennon. 2012. Rapid responses of soil microorganisms improve plant fitness in novel environments. PNAS 109:14058-14062. DOI 10.1073/pnas.1202319109. — Over several generations of experimental evolution in either drought or wet soil, populations of the plant Brassica rapa didn’t evolve much in response to the soil conditions—but the bacteria in the soil, which the authors allowed to evolve along with the plants, did—and that evolutionary change in the microbes made a big difference for the fitness of the plants.
Leffler, E. M., K. Bullaughey, D. R. Matute, W. K. Meyer, L. Ségurel, A. Venkat, P. Andolfatto et al. 2012. Revisiting an old riddle: What determines genetic diversity levels within species? PLoS Biol 10:e1001388. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001388. — With modern sequencing technology (there’s an introductory clause that’s not gotten repetitive) we can now directly measure species-wide, genome-wide genetic diversity, and relate it to variables thought to help determine it, like census population size, natural selection, and mutation rates.
Harpur, B. A., S. Minaei, C. F. Kent, and A. Zayed. 2012. Management increases genetic diversity of honey bees via admixture. Molecular Ecology 21:4414-4421. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05614.x. — Comparison to their ancestral populations in Europe and Africa reveals that, contrary to the stereotype of domestication, honey bees became more genetically diverse after humans started raising them. The authors note that this suggests that lack of genetic diversity is probably not contributing to declines in domestic bee populations.
Science news
Are “predatory” journals threatening the viability of open-access publishing?
A scientist working at a prominent Spanish national park is suspected of repeated data falsification.
Selection on the same gene is associated with the evolution of larger brains in both primates and cetaceans.
Would you publish a paper as a blog post?

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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