The year in Biology
The BMC-series was very proud to get involved with some of the biggest stories in biology over the past year, including an article published in BMC Genetics that formed part of the publication of ENCODE, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements – a project to comprehensively annotate functional elements in the human genome. The article, which outlines a new approach to identify inter-individual variation in genome sequence and function, is collated together with other research from Genome Biology in our article collection.
A couple of months later several journals, led by BMC Genomics, continued the genomic theme with the publication of 13 articles that formed the companion series to the publication of the Pig Genome. Head on over to our blog for more details on the collection, which included a review of the pig as a biomedical model, and the first detailed gene expression atlas of the domestic pig.
Over in Stockholm, the Nobel committee were handing out their annual awards, which this year celebrated advances in stem cell biology. We were delighted that the two recipients of this year’s prize in Physiology or Medicine had both chosen to publish some of their work in BioMed Central journals – including two articles from Shinya Yamanaka in BMC Developmental Biology. Find out more about why we think publishing this work openly was so important: Nobel prizes, openness, and the cellular circle of life.
Other revolutions in biology were happening in the world of zoological taxonomy, as the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) joined the 21st Century by finally recognising electronic-only publication of new animal species names. An interview with Dr Frank-Thorsten Krell –Commissioner of ICZN and Chair of the ICZN ZooBank Committee – discussed the implications of the new code for authors and Editors, which was published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.
Just what could some of these new species look like you may ask? Well, an ecologist might just have snapped a photo of one of them and submitted it to the BMC Ecology Image Competition. You’ve only a few weeks left to find out whether they did or not, when the winners are finally announced….
Both BMC Ecology and BMC Evolutionary Biology were also at the heart of an update to our peer-review policies over on the biology side of the BMC-series, following the announcement that we will now be considering manuscripts that have previously been reviewed in the community review initiative, Peerage of Science. Our blog post Supporting a new way to peer-review, gives you all the details you need to discover just what this involves, and why we’re now a part of it.
This initiative followed an announcement earlier in the year that the BMC-series biology journals also now join their data-focused sister journals BMC Research Notes and GigaScience in implementing a new section in published articles encouraging deposition of supporting data.
Other research highlights from across the biology series this year include a brace of articles in BMC Veterinary Research on the psychology of equine performance and the biology behind laminitis, a Review presenting evidence of a link between stress and the development of visceral obesity in BMC Physiology, and BMC Structural Biology getting some SAXS appeal with a Commentary and Review on the use of techniques in Small-Angle Scattering to determine the structure of proteins.
We also asked some of our Editorial Board Members what they felt were their highlights of 2012. Professor Alberto Diaspro was impressed by a new study that revisited data on the mechanical properties of chromatin:
“It is a paper considering more than 10 years of works on chromatin that keeps the discussion at a very high level pushing for new data and for further discussions. Understanding the mechanical properties of chromatin is a hard biophysical task within the context of understanding factors influencing gene regulation. This is a very important topic that hopefully will be treated again in BMC Biophysics”.
And Professor Guido Barbujani, Section Editor for BMC Genetics felt that a genetic study comparing contemporary populations of koalas with those sourced from museum specimens represented
“A simple article, very careful in the validation and analysis of data, effective in conveying a clear message with implications for conservation policies.”
whilst Professor Sheila McCormick for BMC Plant Biology felt that a Commentary on why plant roots display unexpected growth patterns in zero gravity was important because
“the finding was completely unexpected, and so more research will be needed to find out why roots skew and wave in space.”
Next up: The year in Medicine