Highlights of the BMC-series: August 2012

Posted on behalf of Tim Sands

There’s something of a baby theme running though several of the highlights from the BMC series this month. Elsewhere, potted plants gain some extra life, a new online collaborative platform for systems biologists and a couple of papers are on the scent of the genomics of smell.


Pediatrics: Tiny babies thriving on the white stuff

First up is an article in BMC Pediatrics that has gained a lot of attention in the media. In the article Tarah Colaizy and colleagues report a retrospective study of the early diets of 171 very low birthweight children. They found that the babies fed breast milk – from the mother or a donor – did grow adequately if the milk is fortified to ensure sufficient protein and caloric content.

Pharmacology: Pharma chameleon

And in other baby news, having stolen glances at each other across the list of BMC journals for years, two of our journals, BMC Pharmacology and BMC Clinical Pharmacology, finally realised just how much they have in common and got together. One thing lead to another and this month sees the arrival of the resulting little bundle of joy, BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology.

The new journal launched with the publications of several articles. These included a review article by Terry Kenakin in which he considers the idea that agonists may activate signalling proteins in a biased manner, and how this changes how pharmacologists think about agonism.

Psychology: Open minded

News hot off the presses, the BMC series has another new addition to the open-access family: BMC Psychology is now accepting submission of articles on all aspects of psychology, human behaviour and the mind, including developmental, clinical, cognitive, experimental, social, evolutionary and educational psychology.

Image of the month:



Three-dimensional model of Leanchoilia superlata Walcott, 1912 illustrating new interpretation of the morphology. From Joachim Haug et al., BMC Evolutionary Biology





Plant Biology: Flowers not to be sneezed at

Begoña García-Sogo and colleagues reported a new development in flowers that could dry the runny noses of many flower lovers and cheer the heart of commercial growers. In the article in BMC Plant Biology they describe genetic modifications to the ornamental flower Pelargonium (also known as a storksbill and commonly but incorrectly as a geranium), to increase their lifespan and prevent pollen production. The latter could be of interest to consumers with pollen allergies, but also to plant breeders as this could prevent the escape of transgenes from engineered plants.

Systems Biology: Better off together

The development of models of biochemical networks is transforming the understanding of biological systems. However their immense complexity and the amount of laboratory data on their components means that building large networks is a challenging task for individual scientists or research groups.

In answer to this problem Tomas Helikar and colleagues have developed The Cell Collective, described in an article in BMC Systems Biology. This is an online system enabling researchers across the world to collaborate on the building, simulation and analysis of large-scale models.

Genomics: Everybody’s nose

Two articles published in BMC Genomics explore the variation found in olfactory receptors. The first paper by Tsviya Olender and colleagues looks at people, whereas the second by Elizabeth Wynn and colleagues focuses on mice. Both papers found that the chemosensory receptors from the noses of both mice and men were extremely variable – showing 2.3 and 2.5 times more variation than other genes in the same species’ genomes.

This high genetic diversity seemed to result from several flavours of natural selection. In humans at least this genetic diversity has a direct effect on the range of smell perception.

You can keep up to date with all the latest developments across
all aspects of biology and medicine published in the BMC-series by following
our blog, twitter feed @BMC_series, or individual journal homepages in your
research area. We look forward to bringing you further exciting updates over
the next month!

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