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Editorial Board Favorites: the final collection from our 10 Year Anniversary series!

To cap off the PLOS ONE 10 Year Anniversary collection series, we decided to focus our efforts on the PLOS ONE Editorial Board – a sizable group of accomplished scientists that has allowed us to publish thousands of high quality research articles over the past decade.

Here the Editorial Board, with the help of Senior Editor Gina Alvino, highlight 14 articles they selected as their top favorites. The Editorial Board Favorites Collection proudly represents the wide breadth of expertise among the nearly 6,000 hard-working members of the PLOS ONE Editorial Board!


In their 2014 article, Hengl et al. (1) report on the development of “SoilGrids1km,” an Open Access, 3D global soil information system for soil mapping and sharing of soil data. The system, which can be accessed at soilgrids.org, contains spatial predictions for a plethora of soil properties and represents what appears to be to date the largest collection of soil profiles in the world. The authors based the predictions on global spatial prediction models and note that this data took more than 5 years to obtain, process and merge.

The survival of dinosaur fossil peptides

In this paper from 2011, San Antonio et al. (2) provide paleoproteomic evidence further supporting the existence of a link between molecular preservation and protein function. The authors report the results of a study wherein 11 fossil-derived peptide sequences from 2 dinosaur species were mapped onto molecular models of human and rat-derived collagens. The findings demonstrate that functionally significant protein regions are more stable than others over geologic time, and thus may be “preferentially preserved” in fossils.

In vitro fertilization in the domestic dog

In this 2015 paper, Nagashima et al. (3) report the births of a litter of 7 live and healthy puppies resulting from an intra-oviductal transfer of 19 cryopreserved embryos that were derived from in vitro fertilization (IVF). This research signifies the first success with assisted reproduction technology in the dog, which is noteworthy as canine IVF research has taken place since the 1970s but has never resulted in live births or advanced fetal development. The authors note that IVF in dogs can pave the way for the application of gene-editing technologies and procedures to conserve endangered canids.

Mechanical size control in the Drosophila wing

In this interdisciplinary study of biomechanics, researchers from the University of Zurich demonstrate that growth (cell proliferation rate) can be induced by mechanical stretching, thus confirming a basic assumption of the mechanical feedback models – that mechanical tension leads increased proliferation. This 2013 paper by Schluck et al. (4) reports on research that utilized the Drosophila wing imaginal disc, a larval organ precursor to the adult fly wing and a common model system for the study of organ growth. By stretching the tissue with a given force, the researchers simultaneously determined the proliferation rate and characterized the average proliferation over the entire growth period.

The effect of the moon on angler-caught muskellunge

In this paper from 2014 Vinson and Angradi (5) report on their investigation of the relationship between the lunar cycle and (fishing) catch of muskellunge, a North American freshwater fish. By analyzing over 300,000 catch records submitted by sport anglers to an online muskellunge database, the authors demonstrated that the lunar cycle influences anglers’ catch of these fish at least partially because their feeding behavior is synchronized with this cycle. They further note that numerous sources of variation in the lunar pattern seem to be evidence of the biological mediation of the lunar effect.

Circadian rhythms in human gut bacteria

Researchers from the University of Kentucky demonstrate the existence of a circadian clock in a non-cyanobacterial prokaryote and common human gut bacterium, Enterobacter (E.) aerogenes. In this paper published in 2016, Paulose and colleagues (6) report on a series of experiments undertaken to test the hypothesis that the commensal bacteria within the human gastrointestinal tract have the capability of sensing host signals, and specifically melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. The authors note that their findings provide support of the concept of the microbiome as a “meta-organism” – one with an endogenous clock that is entrained by the clock-driven signals of its host.

A gene network’s adaptive response to environmental changes by fitness-induced attractor selection

This 2006 paper, written by Kashiwagi et al. (7) was one of the first papers ever published in PLOS ONE! Here the authors report the findings of a study demonstrating that cells have an inherent ability to adaptively respond to environmental changes by selecting a gene expression state which allows for higher cell activity, in the absence of signal transduction. Signal transduction machineries are used to sense environmental change and transmit it to the gene regulatory network so the cell expresses the appropriate genetic program.

Viral reactivation in sepsis

This paper, published in 2014, reports on the research of Walton and colleagues (8) who addressed an important question that asked whether patients with sepsis can become immunosuppressed. As Section Editor Lyle Moldawer notes, “Intuitively, you would think that an active host antimicrobial response to sepsis would be protective, but what Hotchkiss [corresponding author] and this paper show so elegantly is that sepsis suppresses host protective immunity and patients start showing susceptibility to nosocomial infections and reactivation of latent viral infections.”

Target-similarity in repositioning approved drugs for use against malaria

To address a pressing need for the development of new antimalarial drugs as way to counteract resistance to current antimalarials, Mogire et al. (9) utilized an in silico approach using target similarity search to carry out repositioning of approved drugs for the treatment of malaria. In this paper, which was published late last year (2017), the authors discuss the exciting findings of their research, wherein they were able to identify a number of approved drugs that showed significant in vitro activity against Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan parasite that causes malaria.

A meta-analysis that evaluates the impacts of genetically modified crops

This 2014 article by Klümper and Qaim (10) reports on a meta-analysis investigating the agronomic and economic impacts of genetically modified (GM) crops. The authors note that results of the meta-analysis point to the benefits of GM crops for farmers in both developed and developing nations.

Exotic flower-breeding Drosophilidae in Los Angeles, California

In this article from 2015, Grimaldi and colleagues (11) provide evidence that Los Angeles (LA), California is now home to breeding populations of 2 unusual species of fruit flies, Drosophilidae. Using a Malaise trap set at 29 different sites across LA, the authors identified the Drosophila (D.) flavohirta and D. gentica species, both of which are flower-breeders and neither of which had been previously recorded in Los Angeles.

The effects of abortion legalization in Nepal

In their 2013 article, Henderson et al. (12) report the results of a retrospective chart review undertaken to investigate the question of whether legalization of abortion, which took place in 2002, reduced the number of significant maternal health consequences stemming from unsafe abortion. Authors identified all cases of abortion (both spontaneous and induced) presented at 4 large public referral hospitals in Nepal and performed an analysis in order to classify cases of serious infection, injury and systemic complications. Their findings revealed a substantial decrease in the rate of morbidity related to abortion over the study period, suggesting women’s health benefits resulting from the legalization.

Differences in gut microbiota between diabetic and non-diabetic adults

This 2010 paper provides evidence that type 2 diabetes is associated with compositional changes in the microbiota of the intestines. By utilizing tag-encoded amplicon pyrosequencing of the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene and qPCR, Larsen et al. (13) characterized the composition of fecal microbiota in adults with type 2 diabetes as compared to non-diabetic controls. The authors note that their findings are important for developing strategies to modify gut microbiota as a way of controlling metabolic diseases.

Severe flying insect biomass decline in protected areas

This 2017 paper received an enormous amount of press attention from such news outlets as The Guardian, Science, The Washington Post, CNN and Newsweek. Using a standard protocol to assess total insect biomass over a 27-year period in a multitude of nature protection areas in Germany, Hallmann et al. (14) found that there was a substantial loss of flying insect biomass (76% seasonal decline, 82% mid-summer decline). The findings have resulted in widespread alarm among various communities, which will undoubtedly prompt further research into the causes of this decline and ramifications.


  1. Hengl T, de Jesus JM, MacMillan RA, Batjes NH, Heuvelink GBM, Ribeiro E, et al. (2014) SoilGrids1km — Global Soil Information Based on Automated Mapping. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105992.
  2. San Antonio JD, Schweitzer MH, Jensen ST, Kalluri R, Buckley M, Orgel JPRO (2011) Dinosaur Peptides Suggest Mechanisms of Protein Survival. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20381.
  3. Nagashima JB, Sylvester SR, Nelson JL, Cheong SH, Mukai C, Lambo C, et al. (2015) Live Births from Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris) Embryos Produced by In Vitro Fertilization. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143930.
  4. Schluck T, Nienhaus U, Aegerter-Wilmsen T, Aegerter CM (2013) Mechanical Control of Organ Size in the Development of the Drosophila Wing Disc. PLoS ONE 8(10): e76171.
  5. Vinson MR, Angradi TR (2014) Muskie Lunacy: Does the Lunar Cycle Influence Angler Catch of Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy)? PLoS ONE 9(5): e98046.
  6. Paulose JK, Wright JM, Patel AG, Cassone VM (2016) Human Gut Bacteria Are Sensitive to Melatonin and Express Endogenous Circadian Rhythmicity. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146643.
  7. Kashiwagi A, Urabe I, Kaneko K, Yomo T (2006) Adaptive Response of a Gene Network to Environmental Changes by Fitness-Induced Attractor Selection. PLoS ONE 1(1): e49.
  8. Walton AH, Muenzer JT, Rasche D, Boomer JS, Sato B, Brownstein BH, et al. (2014) Reactivation of Multiple Viruses in Patients with Sepsis. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98819.
  9. Mogire RM, Akala HM, Macharia RW, Juma DW, Cheruiyot AC, Andagalu B, et al. (2017) Target-similarity search using Plasmodium falciparum proteome identifies approved drugs with anti-malarial activity and their possible targets. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0186364.
  10. Klümper W, Qaim M (2014) A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops. PLoS ONE 9(11): e111629.
  11. Grimaldi D, Ginsberg PS, Thayer L, McEvey S, Hauser M, Turelli M, et al. (2015) Strange Little Flies in the Big City: Exotic Flower-Breeding Drosophilidae (Diptera) in Urban Los Angeles. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0122575.
  12. Henderson JT, Puri M, Blum M, Harper CC, Rana A, Gurung G, et al. (2013) Effects of Abortion Legalization in Nepal, 2001–2010. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64775.
  13. Larsen N, Vogensen FK, van den Berg FWJ, Nielsen DS, Andreasen AS, Pedersen BK, et al. (2010) Gut Microbiota in Human Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Differs from Non-Diabetic Adults. PLoS ONE 5(2): e9085.
  14. Hallmann CA, Sorg M, Jongejans E, Siepel H, Hofland N, Schwan H, et al. (2017) More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0185809.

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