Recent posts from our blogs

From: BioMed Central blog

Genetics link found in search for sweet strawberries

Kam Marwaha on April 17, 2014 at 13:30 - 0 Comments

This post by Madeleine Martiniello looks at findings from two new papers on strawberries published in BMC Genomics today, and is republished with kind permission from The Conversation.

JD Hancock/Flickr, CC BY

If you’ve ever bitten into a strawberry and wondered why it doesn’t taste as sweet or as good as others in the punnet, you could blame the fruit’s genetics.

Two studies, published today in BMC Genomics, found that the distinct flavour of strawberry has been linked to a specific gene, present in some varieties of the fruit – but not in others.

The gene FaFAD1 controls a key flavour volatile compound in strawberries called gamma-decalactone, which is described as “fruity”,...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Weapons of low-mass destruction: small ORFs in the uncharted parasite genome

Naomi Attar on April 17, 2014 at 11:00 - 0 Comments

In our genomes, there is a whole host of genes hiding in plain sight. These genes are not included in major genome annotation efforts and are widely ignored in the literature, even though in some cases they have been conserved for as long as 550 million years.

So how have these genes remained hidden? There is a short answer to this. Literally so: the genes are short.

Scientists and computer algorithms that hunt for genes expect their prey to take the form of long sequences of hundreds of nucleotides, and quite simply ignore or discard candidates that do not meet this criterion.

But they are perhaps unwise to do so, suggest a number of recent reports, including an article in BMC...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Knowledge sharing: key to improving dog health

Matthew Landau on April 16, 2014 at 14:21 - 0 Comments

To mark today’s launch of Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, we asked the Kennel Club’s Health Information Manager, Aimée Llewellyn, to tell us more about the journal’s background and its potential impact on the wellbeing of dogs:

The Kennel Club had been working to improve their educational resources for many years. In late 2011, it was agreed to investigate developing or potentially linking with a canine-focused scientific journal to make the newly emerging genetic research more accessible to the general public and dog breeders, as well as a more centralized resource for the veterinary community.

The problem was there wasn’t a journal already in place that focused purely, or even mainly, on dog health. So we looked into the...

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From: Open Repository blog

Practical Action: a repository for the developing world

Surina Khan on April 16, 2014 at 10:37 - 0 Comments

From the DuraSpace April Newsletter

 

Practical Action: a repository for the developing world

Open Repository is delighted to announce an agreement with the Practical Action Group to build and host their institutional repository.  Practical Action is a large international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that uses technology to challenge poverty in developing countries. Open Repository will be working with Practical Action Publishing to implement a large & expanding repository storing  books, journal articles and metadata.  The repository, launching in the middle of 2014, will be harvested by multiple content management systems in order to serve Practical Action’s worldwide stable of websites.

Practical Action joins Open Repository clients such as Oxfam iLibrary and Médecins Sans Frontières operating in...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Help me: I’m interdisciplinary! - A blog post about interdisciplinary health services research

Jay Shaw on April 16, 2014 at 09:48 - 0 Comments

In this post, new guest blogger Jay Shaw looks at the challenges of working across disciplines in research and what can be done to address them.

I have a dilemma. I am a postdoctoral researcher in health services and policy research at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. I am trained as a physiotherapist; I did my PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, which was supervised by a physiotherapist, a psychologist, and a nurse; and my postdoctoral advisory committee includes a geographer, a sociologist, and an anthropologist. I guess I’m still sorting through my disciplinary identity crisis.

This might sound a bit like an educational carnival (thanks to Mikhail Bakhtin for that one), but it’s actually just a reflection of

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From: GigaBlog

Q&A on dynamic documents

Scott Edmunds on April 16, 2014 at 07:42 - 0 Comments

At GigaScience one of our major goals is to take the scientific publishing beyond dead trees and static PDFs to a more dynamic and interactive process, much like science itself has embraced the Internet to become more networked and data driven. One way we have done this is by enabling the histories and analyses from papers to be visualized and executed through our GigaGalaxy server (see our recent posting on this), but on top of integrating workflows into our papers through citable DOIs, the papers themselves can be generated (and subsequently reproduced) in a similar manner using a number of tools that allow...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Farm animals are more intelligent than they seem

Anna Perman on April 15, 2014 at 17:51 - 0 Comments

Following on from our post last month about research into the intelligence of goats, we asked one of the authors of the article, Elodie Briefer, to tell us more about why she studies goats and what is was like to carry out the research. Here’s what she had to say…

My main research interests are vocal communication and cognition. I carried out my PhD in the Bioacoustics team of Paris South University, on the song of skylarks. After my PhD, I moved to Queen Mary University of London to work with Alan McElligott on mother-offspring vocal recognition and vocal ontogeny in goats, and later on, on goat personality and emotions.

Photo credit: Brian Squibb

Expanding the breadth of research...

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From: Biotechnology for Biofuels blog

A quick green screen for biorefinery enzymes

Emma Laycock on April 15, 2014 at 14:45 - 0 Comments

Cellulose and chitin are the most abundant polymers on Earth and their potential is vast for the biofuel industry. Cellulose is the major component of plant cell walls and its degradation into sugars is at the core of biofuels production. Chitin forms much of the shells of crustaceans, exoskeletons of insects and even butterfly wings and has major potential for making bioplastics in a sustainable fashion.  

To harness this potential, the polymers need to be broken down. Unfortunately, they are notoriously resistant, requiring the enzymatic power of cellulases and chitinases. We need to be able to identify the most efficient and powerful of these enzymes in a high-throughput manner. However, this can be difficult. The current assays used are not

...

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From: Molecular Cytogenetics blog

Proceedings from the 39th Indian Society of Human Genetics conference

Sam Rose on April 15, 2014 at 12:27 - 0 Comments

The proceedings from the International Conference on Human Genetics and 39th Annual Meeting of the Indian Society of Human Genetics have been published as a supplement in Molecular Cytogenetics. The meeting took place on the 22-25 January, 2014, in Ahmedabad, India.

Former President of India, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, inaugurated the conference, and can be seen handing the journal supplement to the Molecular Cytogenetics Co-Editor-in-Chief Thomas Liehr (Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany).

From left: Prof. Jayesh Sheth (head of FRIGE’s Institute and organizer of this annual meeting); Hon’ble Former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam; Mr. Akshay Saxena (Mission director, Gujarat State Biotech Mission); Prof. Alok Dhawan (Director of...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Tamiflu: A poster child for transparency in clinical trials?

Daniel Shanahan on April 14, 2014 at 17:24 - 0 Comments

Thursday 10 April saw the publication of the Cochrane systematic review on oseltamivir and zanamivir, or Tamiflu (Roche) and Relenza (GlaxoSmithKline) to give them their better-known trade names. In short, the review found that Tamiflu doesn’t work quite as well as we thought; a finding that is the culmination of a four-and-a-half year battle for access to the raw data from the clinical trials.

The authors – Jefferson, Heneghan and colleagues – uncovered what they characterized as ‘multisystem failure’, with poorly-defined endpoints and confusion as to the authorship and contribution of the clinical trials. They also found that all studies were conducted against placebo, rather than against current best practice. Overall, the reviewers felt that the published studies were...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Are journals ready to abolish peer review?

Maria Kowalczuk on April 11, 2014 at 10:35 - 1 Comment

Scientific journal publishing has undergone significant changes in the last couple of decades with the digital revolution and the rise of open access journals. However, the process of manuscript peer review remains essentially the same as it was in the age of typewriters, even if we now do it by email rather than by post. Typically two or three copies of the manuscript are sent to two or three referees, and the decision to publish is based on their reports. Is this system quaint and outdated in today’s world of instant communication, social media and crowdsourcing? Or has it prevailed because it actually works?

John Bohannon’s sting published in Science, the rise in retractions and disillusionment with the...

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From: BioMed Central blog

Borderline personality disorder – the ‘good prognosis diagnosis’?

Guest on April 10, 2014 at 15:00 - 0 Comments

Dr Perry Hoffman

The new journal Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation (BPDED) launches today. In this guest blog, Dr Perry Hoffman, President of the NEA.BPD, tells us about borderline personality disorder and the impact this new journal can have, not just for researchers but for patients and their families.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder that occurs in the context of relationships. With its hallmark symptoms of rapid mood changes, fears of abandonment, self-injury, suicide/suicide attempts, impulsivity and stormy relationships, it is a challenging diagnosis. And yet it is also termed the ‘good prognosis diagnosis’.  

Fortunately, the past two decades have seen a sea change in the disorder, with evidenced-based treatments, albeit...

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From: Clinical Epigenetics blog

The origin of blood-derived epigenetic cancer markers

Sam Rose on April 10, 2014 at 14:02 - 0 Comments

Written by Dr Ivana Samarzija, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Epigenetic processes have been unequivocally linked to cancer and other complex diseases. DNA methylation, a major epigenetic mechanism, is perturbed in cancer tissue in the way that global hypomethylation appears at the same time as hypermethylation at gene promoters. In addition to epigenetic studies on tumor tissue, in the last decade, there have been several reports showing correlation between peripheral blood DNA methylation and tumor status. Given the fact that peripheral blood is easily accessible, it is clear that its DNA methylation analysis holds a promise in finding suitable cancer markers.

Attributed to: Crystal (Crystl) from Bloomington, USA, Wikimedia Commons

Two sources of epigenetic alterations can be detected in patients blood as

...

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From: BMC series blog

Metagenomics: tools, comparisons and many applications

Catherine Rice on April 10, 2014 at 10:54 - 1 Comment

We take a look back at recent developments in the fast-paced field of metagenomics – and look forward to what the future has in store

The term metagenomics first appeared in a publication in 1998 and according to Wikipedia ‘…is the study of metagenomes, genetic material recovered directly from environmental samples‘, and involves the sequencing of  many individual microorganism genomes from those samples. This is in contrast to clonal (single, pure) microbial  cultures which are commonly used for sequencing in microbial genomics and microbiology.

Metagenomics is an increasingly important area of research in genomics and other related fields. Diverse applications and new software developments continue to be made to improve the identification of mixed cultures of micro-organisms in both unusual and common

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From: BMC series blog

BMC Nursing – looking forwards, looking back

Catia Cornacchia on April 9, 2014 at 14:14 - 0 Comments

BMC Nursing announces a new Editorial Board of distinguished Section Editors

BMC Nursing is proud of the progress it has made since its launch back in 2001. The journal has grown steadily each year, continuing as a preeminent open access journal in its field.

Nursing practice is both a science and an art. It requires scientific skill yet demands a strong background in the social sciences and humanities. Anyone who has had to spend any length of time in a hospital or healthcare environment will undoubtedly be aware that nursing makes a significant contribution to the health maintenance, health promotion and well-being of individuals, local communities and populations. However, a major challenge for current and future nursing practice, education and

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