What we're reading: The evolution of brains versus brawn, ring species genomics, and the deadly fifth stage of publishing

Reading in the tree
In the journals
Bozek K, Wei Y, Yan Z, Liu X, Xiong J, et al. 2014. Exceptional evolutionary divergence of human muscle and brain metabolomes parallels human cognitive and physical uniqueness. PLoS Biology 12(5): e1001871. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001871.

We found that the evolution of the metabolome largely reflects genetic divergence between species and is not greatly affected by environmental factors. In the human lineage, however, we observed an exceptional acceleration of metabolome evolution in the prefrontal cortical region of the brain and in skeletal muscle.

Alcaide M, Scordato ESC, Price TD, Irwin DE. 2014. Genomic divergence in a ring species complex. Nature 10.1038/nature13285.

These results cast doubt on the hypothesis that the greenish warbler should be viewed as a rare example of speciation by distance, but demonstrate that the greenish warbler displays a continuum from slightly divergent neighbouring populations to almost fully reproductively isolated species.

In the news
“For a career in science you need to combine curiosity and creativity with hard work and stamina, as well salesmanship and confidence …”
“Being quite selective has worked out very well for me so far. I’ve been fortunate enough to attract several really great graduate students. But lately I’m wondering if I need to be less selective.”
“Now, even when I have other newish finds that I’ve yet to present, I submit [conference] abstracts for projects that still lack a rudimentary answer.”

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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