May 2015: BMC Series Highlights

Butterflies and their Curious Chromosomes • Read all about it! Pharmacogenetics in UK newspapers • Conservation efforts aided by new species interaction • Multi-cellular behaviour modelling • Childhood poverty and cigarette smoking • Automated Allen Atlas Annotation

Evolutionary Biology: Butterflies and their Curious Chromosomes

Closely related wood white butterfly species substantially differ in chromosome number and structure including, remarkably, possession of unique sex chromosome constitutions in each species, supporting an important role for chromosome rearrangements in speciation. Jindra Šíchová and colleagues, using a number of immuno-fluorescent Karyotyping techniques, detail these unique differences in their paper at BMC Evolutionary Biology.

 

Medical Genetics: Read all about it! Pharmacogenetics in UK newspapers

Have you ever been confused by reporting on medical topics in the general media? Basima Almomani and colleagues based in Belfast and Birmingham set out to assess the coverage of Pharmacogenetics and its potential gains in the UK media. The group revealed that UK print media over-emphasizes benefits and downplays risks; as this is an important source of health information there is an onus on researchers to provide balanced claims in press releases, and for nuanced reporting from journalists.

 

Biophysics: Multi-cellular behaviour modelling

Cells form the basic unit for every multi-cellular organism but how do these individual units produce an array of tissue structures? In particular how can we better understand the cell to cell interactions which govern the eventual multicellular structure? Using a computational biophysical approach; Ramiro Magno, Verônica A Grieneisen and Athanasius FM Marée modeled the range of 2D and 3D possibilities for single cell behaviour and organisation into tissue.

 

Image of the month

Reconstruction of the ancestral crown-group snake, artwork by Julius Csotonyi. Click here  for a blog entry on this study.

Reconstruction of the ancestral crown-group snake, artwork by Julius Csotonyi. Click here  for a blog entry on this study.

 

Public Health: Childhood poverty and cigarette smoking

Whilst the negative health associations of smoking are well publicised, the additional burden on household budgets are less discussed. In a study published in BMC Public Health the negative implications of smoking on childhood poverty were assessed. The study produced results suggesting tobacco control interventions which effectively enable low income smokers to quit can play an important role in reducing the financial burden of child poverty.

 

Ecology: Conservation efforts aided by new species interaction

Understanding the complex relationships between organisms in an ecosystem are key to helping decrease the ongoing biodiversity crisis. In order to study the interactions of the American black and brown bear, Caroline Hazel Fox, Paul Charles Paquet and Thomas Edward Reimchen set up a network of over 1000 remote cameras on the pacific north American coast. The authors discussed their work in this blog.

 

Bioinformatics: Automated Allen Atlas Annotation

Image repositories such as The Allen brain atlas store vast volumes of expression data all requiring tedious amounts of annotation and may lead to inconsistencies when handled manually. Automating this task would reduce inconsistency errors and speed up processing. To the rescue, Dr. Tao Zeng and colleagues who have employed an informatics data processing pipeline to analyse in-situ hybridization images and built upon this to test the viability of such an automated program in image annotation.

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