What we're reading: A meta-analysis of meta-analyses, plants' cytoplasmic genomes, and science under political attack

In the journals
Koricheva, J. and J. Gurevitch. 2014. Uses and misuses of meta-analysis in plant ecology. Journal of Ecology, 102: 828–844. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12224.

We found many cases of imprecise and inaccurate usage of the term ‘meta-analysis’ in plant ecology, particularly confusion between meta-analysis and vote counting and incorrect application of statistical techniques designed for primary studies to meta-analytical data, without recognition of the violation of statistical assumptions of the analyses.

Bock, D.G., R.L. Andrew, and L.H. Rieseberg. 2014. On the adaptive value of cytoplasmic genomes in plants. Molecular Ecology, 23: 4899–4911. doi: 10.1111/mec.12920.

Is DNA variation maintained in organelle genomes selectively neutral? The answer to this question has important implications for many aspects of ecology and evolution. While traditionally the answer has been ‘yes’, recent studies in animals have shown that, on the contrary, mitochondrial DNA polymorphism is frequently adaptive. In plants, however, the neutrality assumption has not been strongly challenged.

In the news
“The blackboard-centered classroom offers more than pedagogical efficiency; it also offers an effective set of teaching possibilities. … The teacher is not the focus of the class but rather a lens through which the lesson is created and clarified.”
“… although humanity as a whole may manage in an evolving world, failure to moderate our use of chemical agents will mean a future of real, individual people sickened by un-killable bacteria and left hungry by impervious agricultural pests.”
“My options seemed obvious: don’t respond to an obviously ill-intentioned inquiry and risk looking guilty, or respond and hopefully discourage Hunter from writing the article in the first place (after all, why bother writing it without the concluding ‘gotcha’?). So I wrote Hunter back. I don’t have to summarize what I wrote here, because a week later she essentially reprinted my email in its entirety.”

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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