What we're reading: resurrected rodent teeth, the genetic origin of sex, and what's in your ANOVA?

Life Without Principle
In the journals
Harjunmaa E, K Seidel, T Häkkinen, E Renvoisé, IJ Corfe, A Kallonen, Z-Q Zhang, Alistair R. Evans, ML Mikkola, I Salazar-Ciudad, OD Klein, and & J Jernvall. 2014. Replaying evolutionary transitions from the dental fossil record. Nature. doi: 10.1038/nature13613.

By identifying development-based character inter-dependencies, we show how to predict morphological patterns of teeth among mammalian species. Finally, in vivo inhibition of sonic hedgehog signalling in Eda null teeth enabled us to reproduce characters deep in the rodent ancestry.

Geng S, P De Hoff, and JG Umen. 2014. Evolution of Sexes from an Ancestral Mating-Type Specification Pathway. PLoS Biology 12(7): e1001904. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001904.

Here we show that, contrary to predictions, a single conserved mating locus (MT) gene in volvocine algae—MID, which encodes a RWP-RK domain transcription factor—evolved from its ancestral role in C. reinhardtii as a mating-type specifier, to become a determinant of sperm and egg development in [Volvox] carteri.

In the news
“There is no dark corner of academic metrics to expose when the people you’re mocking are the ones least well positioned to respond.”
“It is everything a big idea paper should be – confident, persuasive, suggesting that simple tradeoffs may allow us to predict broad ecological patterns. And while with time I feel that some of the logic in the paper is flawed or at least unsupported, it definitely is a reminder of how exciting thinking big can be (and 1870 citations suggests others agree).”
“So really, what I’m asking is, exactly what hypotheses do you prefer to test when doing ANOVA with >1 factor?”

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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