New and Exciting in PLoS ONE

There are 38 new articles on PLoS ONE today. Below are some of my own picks, but you look around, read what you like, rate, comment and annotate:

Studying Seabird Diet through Genetic Analysis of Faeces: A Case Study on Macaroni Penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus):

Determining what seabirds have eaten is typically accomplished with stomach flushing. Here, Deagle and colleagues use non-invasive DNA-based analysis of faeces as an alternative way to examine the diet of Macaroni penguins on Heard Island in the southern Indian Ocean. Their results show that the technique can detect changes in the birds' diet over time and suggest it will be useful in long-term monitoring studies.

Plants Attract Parasitic Wasps to Defend Themselves against Insect Pests by Releasing Hexenol:

Many plants release compounds that evaporate easily and defend the plant against insects by attracting natural enemies of those insects. This study examined the attraction of leafminer parasitoids to plants damaged by leafminers. The results reveal that the compound hexenol, released by diverse plant species following mechanical damage, attracts a leafminer parasite to the plant.

Malaria in Africa: Vector Species' Niche Models and Relative Risk Maps:

A central theoretical goal of epidemiology is the construction of spatial models of disease prevalence and risk, including maps for the potential spread of infectious disease. We provide three continent-wide maps representing the relative risk of malaria in Africa based on ecological niche models of vector species and risk analysis at a spatial resolution of 1 arc-minute (9 185 275 cells of approximately 4 sq km). Using a maximum entropy method we construct niche models for 10 malaria vector species based on species occurrence records since 1980, 19 climatic variables, altitude, and land cover data (in 14 classes). For seven vectors (Anopheles coustani, A. funestus, A. melas, A. merus, A. moucheti, A. nili, and A. paludis) these are the first published niche models. We predict that Central Africa has poor habitat for both A. arabiensis and A. gambiae, and that A. quadriannulatus and A. arabiensis have restricted habitats in Southern Africa as claimed by field experts in criticism of previous models. The results of the niche models are incorporated into three relative risk models which assume different ecological interactions between vector species. The "additive" model assumes no interaction; the "minimax" model assumes maximum relative risk due to any vector in a cell; and the "competitive exclusion" model assumes the relative risk that arises from the most suitable vector for a cell. All models include variable anthrophilicity of vectors and spatial variation in human population density. Relative risk maps are produced from these models. All models predict that human population density is the critical factor determining malaria risk. Our method of constructing relative risk maps is equally general. We discuss the limits of the relative risk maps reported here, and the additional data that are required for their improvement. The protocol developed here can be used for any other vector-borne disease.

Is Transcriptional Regulation of Metabolic Pathways an Optimal Strategy for Fitness?:

Transcriptional regulation of the genes in metabolic pathways is a highly successful strategy, which is virtually universal in microorganisms. The lac operon of E. coli is but one example of how enzyme and transporter production can be made conditional on the presence of a nutrient to catabolize.

With a minimalist model of metabolism, cell growth and transcriptional regulation in a microorganism, we explore how the interaction between environmental conditions and gene regulation set the growth rate of cells in the phase of exponential growth. This in silico model, which is based on biochemical rate equations, does not describe a specific organism, but the magnitudes of its parameters are chosen to match realistic values. Optimizing the parameters of the regulatory system allows us to quantify the fitness benefit of regulation. When a second nutrient and its metabolic pathway are introduced, the system must further decide whether and how to activate both pathways.

Even the crudest transcriptional network is shown to substantially increase the fitness of the organism, and this effect persists even when the range of nutrient levels is kept very narrow. We show that maximal growth is achieved when pathway activation is a more or less steeply graded function of the nutrient concentration. Furthermore, we predict that bistability of the system is a rare phenomenon in this context, but outline a situation where it may be selected for.

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A dozen or so years ago, I drove my Biochemistry prof to tears with questions - she had 200 people in front of her and she tried hard to make Biochem interesting enough not to get us all bored to tears, and she was pretty good at that, as much as it is possible not to make people bored to tears…
There are 39 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Mendeley, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with…
There are 12 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one…
Last time I told you about how the view of cancer switched from the perspective of metabolism to oncogenes. Today we'll see how recent developments have placed the spotlight back on metabolic pathways. I'll begin this tale with a quote from a review written by Andrew M Arshama and Thomas P Neufeld…

Good shout Bora,

PloS ONE alone are publishing on average, 30 - 40 peer reviewed Papers a week. I simply don't have the time to fully study the ones that are of some interest to me.

On the other hand, just these, I received email notification of my weekly digest of Nature Papers.

Both outlets send out a broad range of great reading material for those interested in browsing through.

Level playing field? Obviously not, as only one (of the above) currently allows the *average reader* to eerrr actually read !!!

God I hate Toll Access....


By Graham Steel (not verified) on 05 Sep 2007 #permalink