In the journals
Jalasvuori M & J Lehtonen. 2014. Virus epidemics can lead to a population-wide spread of intragenomic parasites in a previously parasite-free asexual population. Molecular Ecology. 23(5):987–991. doi: 10.1111/mec.12662.
Endogenous retroviruses are retroviruses that have integrated to the germ line cells and are inherited thereafter vertically. They can also replicate within the genome similarly to retrotransposons as well as form virus particles and infect previously uninfected cells. This highlights the possibility that endogenous retroviruses could play a role in the evolution of sexual reproduction.
Kleindorfer S, JA O’Connor, RY Dudaniec, SA Myers, J Robertson, & FJ Sulloway. 2014. Species collapse via hybridization in Darwin’s tree finches. The American Naturalist. 183(3):325-341. doi: 10.1086/674899.
The results presented here go to the heart of evolutionary biology: by what criteria do we denote species, and by what criteria do new species form or collapse? Here we present evidence that three sympatric species of Darwin’s tree finches in the 1900s have collapsed, under conditions of hybridization, into two species by the 2000s.
In the news
“Data should be in the form in which it was originally collected, before summarizing, analyzing or reporting.” —The PLOS journals are instituting a sweeping new data-sharing policy that appears to require sharing “raw” data. This has made some people very angry, while others are all in favor. But regardless, that data archiving mandate won’t be a panacea.
“Why filter and not just let anybody publish whatever they want?” —A nice multi-part discussion of the how’s and why’s of peer review.
“I can, at least in principle, imagine a creationist professor who taught the contents of a microbiology curriculum, complete with the common descent of life on Earth, and never breathed a word of his personal beliefs in the classroom.” —Can a young-Earth creationist be trusted to teach an introductory biology course at Jeremy’s alma mater?