What we're reading: Arabidopsis vs slugs, the long reach of a GWAS hit, and post-pub peer review comes into its own?

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In the journals
Falk, K. L., J. Kästner, N. Bodenhausen, K. Schramm, C. Paetz, D. G. Vassão, M. Reichelt, D. von Knorre, J. Bergelson, M. Erb, J. Gershenzon, and S. Meldau. 2013. The role of glucosinolates and the jasmonic acid pathway in resistance of Arabidopsis thaliana against molluscan herbivores. Molecular Ecology. 1188–1203.

Our data highlight the function of well-known antiherbivore defence pathways in resistance against slugs and snails and suggest an important role for the diurnal regulation of defence metabolites against nocturnal molluscan herbivores.

Smemo, S., J. J. Tena, K.-H. Kim, E. R. Gamazon, N. J. Sakabe, C. Gómez-Marín, I. Aneas, F. L. Credidio, D. R. Sobreira, N. F. Wasserman, J. H. Lee, V. Puviindran, D. Tam, M. Shen, J. E. Son, N. A. Vakili, H.-K. Sung, S. Naranjo, R. D. Acemel, M. Mazanares, A. Nagy, N. J. Cox, C.-C. Hui, J. L. Gomez-Skarmeta, and M. A. Nóbrega. 2014. Obesity-associated variants within FTO form long-range functional connections with IRX3. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature13138.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have reproducibly assoc- iated variants within introns of FTO with increased risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Although the molecular mechanisms linking these noncoding variants with obesity are not immediately obvious, subsequent studies in mice demonstrated that FTO expression levels influence body mass and composition phenotypes. However, no direct connection between the obesity-associated variants and FTO expression or function has been made. Here we show that the obesity-associated noncoding sequences within FTO are functionally connected, at megabase distances, with the homeobox gene IRX3.

In the news
“In a new policy, PLoS requires PIs to cut and deposit one of their fingers every time they submit a paper, or at least that is the sense you get after reading the reactions about ‘new policy’ online.”
“… consider that one could easily have applied nearly all of the arguments people having been making in the blogosphere these past two weeks to that dastardly scientific timesink that is the common Methods sections.”
“The papers’ comment threads on PubPeer have attracted some 40000 viewers. It’s hardly surprising they caught issues that three overworked referees and a couple of editors did not.”

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Assistant 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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