Metagenomics: tools, comparisons and many applications

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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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BMC Nursing – looking forwards, looking back

jdlasica on flicker, Creative Commons

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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Ancient DNA reveals the lion’s past and (perhaps) future

Kbhargava, Wikipedia, CC 3.0

The evolutionary history of lions is opaque, as most of the sub-species that once roamed the Old World are now extinct. However new research, published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, uses ancient DNA from extinct lions to piece together the gaps in their history. The findings provide both a new understanding of the lion’s past and may provide new insight into how to conserve what remain for the future.

Lions once roamed across the world. Until relatively recently, various sub-species could be found across Africa and all the way from the Indian subcontinent, through the Middle East and into modern day Greece and Turkey. Visitors to the British Museum in London can see engravings from Assyria (in modern day …

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Uncovering the secrets of the cryptic bushbabies


The charmingly named bushbabies (or galagos, from the family name Galagidae) are famously large-eyed nocturnal primates, native to continental Africa. An intriguing family, the Galagidae contains one of the smallest living primates, Galagoides rondoensis, weighing in at ~60g but it is also home to some species that can grow as large as a domestic cat. Galagos are capable jumpers, feeding on a range of foods as diverse as insects and gum and are known to live in a variety of different social hierarchies. Yet their nocturnal habits and often remote habitats mean that they are the least well-studied of all the primates and still relatively little is known of the biology of this enigmatic species.

The species …

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Highlights of the BMC-series: March 2014


• Great tits hide their success • Soccer surface injury risk • Can students afford to specialise? • Cognitive enhancement in the healthy? • Coffee can help! • Nanoscale chromatin changes precede cancer • Liver transplant of inverted organs •

Evolutionary biology: Great tits hide their success

Pied flycatchers (Ficedula hypoleuca) have been shown to derive fitness benefits (measured as number of eggs laid) when nesting in close proximity to great tits (Parus major), presumably because they are able to obtain information about what makes a good nesting site. New experimental evidence also suggests that great tits actively cover their eggs as a counter-adaptation to this ‘information parasitism’, a tactic that …

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World Health Day 2014 focuses on vector-borne diseases


World Health Day, which is celebrated on the 7th of April, selects a high priority theme for Public Health every year. This year’s goal for World Health Day is to raise awareness of the threats vectors and vector-borne diseases pose to communities and to empower people across the globe to protect themselves. The World Health Organisation has recently declared that vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis could be eradicated through preventive measures and more financial commitment for campaigns against the diseases.

Vectors – such as mosquitoes, sandflies, bugs, ticks and snails – are organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person or animal to another. Vector-borne diseases originate from these pathogens and parasites …

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A day at the races

Wikipedia: File:Hedgehunter 2.jpg

BMC Veterinary Research editorial adviser Professor Chris Proudman, leads Grand National vet team and chats about improvements to equine welfare

Professor Chris Proudman, Head of the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine, will soon swap Surrey for the racecourse at Aintree, where he will be part of the team overseeing the health and welfare of horses competing in the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.

As the National Hunt season comes to an end, the Aintree Grand National Festival begins on Thursday 3rd April with an exciting day of racing, with Ladies Day following on the Friday and the Grand National itself on the Saturday.

The Grand National is steeped in history, crowning the winning horse a …

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BMC Cancer at AACR 2014


BMC Cancer will be attending the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2014, in San Diego, California, from 5th -9th April.

With an estimated 18,000 delegates, the AACR is confirmed as one of the major cancer research events. This year’s theme, “Harnessing Breakthroughs – Targeting Cures” puts the emphasis on translational oncology and emerging approaches to personalizing cancer care.  The meeting promises to provide a fantastic opportunity for basic scientists and clinicians alike to meet and exchange ideas, and for us to learn about the latest and most exciting discoveries in  basic, translational, and clinical research.

If you will also be attending and would like to talk to us about your work, what is going on …

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European Congress of Radiology 2014


BMC Medical Imaging has recently returned from the European Congress of Radiology 2014 (ECR 2014),  the 20th  annual meeting of the European Society of Radiology held in Vienna. Extremely well organised, the congress became a forum for experts to learn and debate about the latest advances in imaging techniques and their clinical applications. Besides the interesting lectures,  the conference introduced some remarkable innovations  designed to  make this a more dynamic and interactive congress.

One of these innovations was the Multimedia Classroom. The organisers set-up an auditorium with network connected workstations where multimedia sessions were presented, each including the discussion of three clinical cases that allowed the attendees to participate in the lecture and encouraged discussion.  The extensive …

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BMC Anesthesiology heads back to Brussels for ISICEM 2014


BMC Anesthesiology is once again Brussels bound this year for the 34thInternational Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, which is taking place from 18th-21st March. In between sampling the local chocolate, waffles, mussels and beer, we will also be indulging in the very best that critical care research has to offer, and finding out what’s happening at the leading edge of the field

If you will also be attending and would be interested in speaking to us about your work, or simply discussing what’s going on in the field, then please do let our Executive Editor Tom Rowles know,and we would be happy to organise a meeting.

We look forward to seeing …

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