Welcome to our weekly digest of the PLoS ONE papers that have made appearances in the media and the blogosphere over the past week. Remember: if you read a news story or a blog post about a paper published in PLoS ONE but there is no link to the paper itself, you can use the search functionality on the journal website to track down the article and enjoy reading the full text, along with any images, movies and other supporting information.
[wpvideo VnurwTZ1]In their recent article, Chang Seok Han and Piotr Jablonski at the Seoul National University in Korea report that by evolving a morphological shield to protect their genitalia from males’ forceful copulatory attempts, females of an Asian species of water strider (Gerris gracilicornis) seem to “win” the evolutionary arms race between the sexes. Instead, females only expose their genitalia for copulation after males produce a courtship “song” by tapping the water surface. The study has been covered by New Scientist, The Primate Diaries and io9.
A number of images and movie clips of the insects mating (including the one embedded in this post, which is Movie S1: “Three types of courtship signals produced by G. gracilicornis males. Grasping signals, mounting signals, and attachment signals.”) are available online as part of the published article, which can be reused and redistributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License simply by citing the authors and the journal.
In another article published in PLoS ONE this week entitled, The Vascular Basement Membrane as “Soil” in Brain Metastasis, W. Shawn Carbonell and colleagues at the University of Oxford add to our understanding of the mechanisms for the spread of cancer to the brain and how these cancers establish themselves and begin to grow. The researchers note that this could lead to the development of new treatments for these–usually terminal–brain metastases. Some of the coverage of the study has included the BBC News website and Coffee and Science.
Although the social benefits of friendships among humans are clear, the hows and whys of the evolution of close connections between non-kin individuals are less well understood. According to Peter DeScioli and Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania people form friendships as the basis for making alliances. The researchers asked their participants to rank their closest friends under a number of different conditions (comparing, for example, how the rankings varied if the participants knew their friends would find out). They found that people’s rankings of their ten closest friends were predicted by their own perceived rank among their partners’ other friends. The article was covered by Booster Shots (the Los Angeles Times health blog), the Daily Pennsylvanian and the Austin American Statesman.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere, several other PLoS ONE papers have been discussed this week. Neuroskeptic posted a detailed analysis of a study by Takao Fukui and colleagues, in which the researchers investigated the strange sensation people sometimes get when stepping onto a stationary escalator. A discussion of an article entitled, WNT/β-Catenin Signalling and Epithelial Patterning in the Homoscleromorph Sponge Oscarella, meanwhile, was posted on AK’s Rambling Thoughts.
From the Other PLoS Journals
A recent PLoS Biology article has been highlighted in the media this week. Raphael Kopan and colleagues examined the link between eczema and asthma, including stories on the BBC News website, the Daily Mail and NHS Choices.