What we're reading: Protease-enforced mutualistic exclusivity, predicting complex traits from SNPs, and keeping up with your scientific reading

In the library
In the journals
Orona-Tamayo D., Wielsch N., Blanco-Labra A., Svatos A., Farías-Rodríguez R., Heil M., 2013 Exclusive rewards in mutualisms: ant proteases and plant protease inhibitors create a lock-key system to protect Acacia food bodies from exploitation. Molecular Ecology 22: 4087–4100. doi: 10.1111/mec.12320.

[Protease inhibitors] extracted from Acacia [food bodies] were biologically active, as they effectively reduced the trypsin-like and elastase-like proteolytic activity in the guts of seed-feeding beetles (Prostephanus truncatus and Zabrotes subfasciatus), which were used as non-adapted herbivores representing potential exploiters. By contrast, the legitimate mutu- alistic consumers maintained high proteolytic activity dominated by chymotrypsin 1, which was insensitive to the FB PIs.

Wray N. R., Yang J., Hayes B. J., Price A. L., Goddard M. E., Visscher P. M., 2013 Pitfalls of predicting complex traits from SNPs. Nature Reviews Genetics 14: 507–515. doi: 10.1038/nrg3457.

We have highlighted what we believe are limitations to genetic risk prediction as well as the most important pitfalls to befall researchers, and we have discussed how these can be avoided. Most problems occur in the validation stage, when data are not fully independent from those in the dis- covery phase, but care is also needed to ensure that the discovery and validation samples are representative of the popula- tion in which the predictor will be applied.

In the news
Want to make maps of changing climate? There’s a library for that in R.
On the importance of doubt in science, and science careers.
Advice for keeping up with the scientific literature: just give up already. (Except don’t!)

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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