Buzz Me Baby: Unusual Courtship Songs for Valentine’s Day

 We heart the Ostrinia nubilalis

When most people think of Valentine’s Day, images of love, candy, and flowers pop to mind.  However, this Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share two animals with you that use scales, wings, and other things to create songs that attract that special someone.

Moth Melodies

Male moths use a combination of pheromones and ultrasound—sound with frequencies above the range of human hearing—to woo females. To better understand moth sounds during courtship, researchers in this PLOS ONE study recorded and examined the ultrasounds emitted by three types of grass moths. They found that two of the three moth species had sex-specific wing and thoracic scales that played a role in ultrasound production, and that using these scales increased mating success. This audio clip is the recorded ultrasound of Ostrinia nubilalis (pictured above), aka the European corn borer, slowed down 10 times so that human ears can hear it.

CotesiaWasp Chorus

Cotesia Wasp

Rapid wing fanning is the attraction tool of choice for male wasps when courting females. According to this PLOS ONE study, parasitic wasp wing fanning has been studied before, but the mechanism for how the sound is generated has not.  The researchers characterized the wasp songs and found that they contain a two-part signal with sequences of buzzes and boing sounds. While scientists could characterize  the male courtship songs, how they produce the sound remains a mystery. This audio clip starts with wing fanning, which produces a buzz sound, and is followed by a series of boing sounds.

 


Whether you choose to scale, buzz, or boing to impress your mate with beautiful music, we wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day from PLOS ONE!

 

Citations: 

Takanashi T, Nakano R, Surlykke A, Tatsuta H, Tabata J, et al. (2010) Variation in Courtship Ultrasounds of Three Ostrinia Moths with Different Sex Pheromones. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13144. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013144

Bredlau JP, Mohajer YJ, Cameron TM, Kester KM, Fine ML (2013) Characterization and Generation of Male Courtship Song in Cotesia congregata(Hymenoptera: Braconidae). PLoS ONE 8(4): e62051. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062051

Image Credits:

Photo a Ostrinia nubilalis by dhobern. Heart added by us.

Dorsal view of one pair of wings of a male Cotesia congregata. Figure 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0062051.g008

The post Buzz Me Baby: Unusual Courtship Songs for Valentine’s Day appeared first on EveryONE.

The RosettaCon 2012 Collection: Rosetta Developers Meet the Challenges in Macromodeling Head On

Rosetta2012 Collection ImageReproducibility continues to be one of the major challenges facing computational biologists today. Complicated experiments, massive data sets, scantily described protocols, and constantly evolving code can make experimental documentation and replication very difficult.  In addition, the need for specialized knowledge and access to large computational resources can create barriers when trying to design and model macromolecules.

Every year, the Rosetta developer community meets to discuss these challenges and advancements via Rosetta, a software suite that models and helps design macromolecules. In 2010, PLOS announced the RosettaCon2010 Collection, which made the latest research on protocols used to create macromolecular models available to all. Now, the PLOS ONE RosettaCon 2012 Collection continues to tackle issues related to use, reproducibility and documentation by highlighting new scientific developments within the Rosetta community.

The RosettaCon 2012 Collection comprises 14 articles detailing the scientific advancements made by developers that use Rosetta. In order to address reproducibility and documentation challenges, each article within this Collection includes an archive containing links to the exact version of the code used in the paper, all input data, links to external tools and example scripts.

This year’s Collection marks the tenth anniversary of RosettaCon and focuses on three long-term goals of the community: increase the usability of Rosetta, improve its current methods, and introduce completely new protocols.

Increasing the usability of Rosetta – Rosetta still requires specialized knowledge and large computational resources, but this collection features two articles describing advancements that make it easier for non-experts to use its applications. These articles introduce the Rosetta Online Server that Includes Everyone (ROSIE) workflow, which allows for rapid conversion of Rosetta applications into public web servers, and PyRosetta, a new graphical user interface (GUI) which allows users to run standard Rosetta design tasks.

Improving current prediction methods – Several articles describe improvements to Rosetta’s structure prediction capabilities and design methodologies. Some examples include improvements to loop conformational sampling, and a recently developed ray-casting (DARC) method for small molecule docking now enables virtual screening of large compound libraries.

Introducing new protocols – A number of articles featuring new procedures and applications that debuted at the conference are introduced in the Collection. Highlights include new methods for dealing with ligand docking, advancements to pre-refine scaffold proteins prior to computational design of functional sites, and new protocols to drive Rosetta de novo modeling.

The RosettaCon 2012 Collection continues to help serve the Rosetta community in an effort to ensure that newly developed protocols are as usable as more established workflows, are transparent, and are accurately documented even in an active development environment.

This post has been adapted from “The RosettaCon 2012 Special Collection: Code Writ on Water, Documentation Writ in Stone” which serves as a more in-depth overview of the new collection. To read all that this Collection has to offer, click here.

Predicting Movie Box Office Success Using Wikipedia

Iron Man photo by HarshLight

It’s Friday evening and perhaps you’re planing to watch a movie, but will the new release you choose be a blockbuster or a lackluster flop? Well Wikipedia may help predict your choice’s success or failure in the box office, according to a recently published study.

In this study, researchers tracked activity on Wikipedia entries for 312 movies (released in 2010), including aspects like number of views, users, and edits; and compared this activity to the box office success of the movies in a computational model. They found a strong correlation between higher Wikipedia activity before a movie was released, and the box office success of the film.

The study could accurately predict the blockbuster success of movies like Iron Man 2, Shutter Island and Inception, but was unsuccessful with movies such as The Lottery and Animal Kingdom. The scientists attribute the lack of predictability to the amount of data provided for the different types of movies. According to the authors, their analysis can be used to provide reasonable predictions about a movie’s success as early as a month prior to its release.

The study is a foray into using “big data” generated from the social web to predict people’s reactions to a new product- in this case, a movie. Previous studies have used social data, such as tweets related to an event, to estimate public sentiment and reactions. Here, the authors use social data in advance of the ‘event’ to gauge public sentiment after the movie has launched. They conclude, “Our statistical approach, free of any language based or sentiment analysis, can be easily generalized to non-English speaking movie markets or even other kinds of products.”

CitationMestyán M, Yasseri T, Kertész J (2013) Early Prediction of Movie Box Office Success Based on Wikipedia Activity Big Data. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71226. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071226

Image Credit: Iron Man Tech by HarsLight

PLOS ONE goes to Washington D.C. for AACR. Come visit us!

PONE-D-12-27359R1Next week PLOS ONE will join PLOS Biology at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting.  This meeting will highlight the latest findings in all major areas of cancer research and as a journal that has published thousands of papers on cancer research – the PLOS ONE team is very excited to attend the event.

If you are an author, reviewer, editor, or just curious about PLOS ONE; we encourage you to stop by the PLOS booth (booth #544) between April 7th – April 10th.

Academic Editors: On April 9th, we will be hosting a Meet & Greet from 12:00-1:30 pm at the PLOS booth #544. Please stop by to say hi and to meet your fellow editors, as well as, ONE staff.

Authors:   Find out who has cited your work, how many people are using it in their Mendeley library, and the number of times your pdf has been downloaded (among many other things). Let us demonstrate our article level metrics in exchange for a free t-shirt.

For more information: Check out PLOS Biology’s post on Biologue: PLOS Biology – open for cancer research.  In addition, the PLOS Bio team has assembled a special AACR Collection. These articles cover various aspects of cancer biology published by the journal over the last few years.

Interested in reading cancer research published by PLOS ONE before the conference?  Click here for a list of over 5,000 research articles on the topic.

We hope to see you there!

Image Credit: Figure from Chang H-Y, Shih M-H, Huang H-C, Tsai S-R, Juan H-F, et al. (2013) Middle Infrared Radiation Induces G2/M Cell Cycle Arrest in A549 Lung Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54117. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054117

Home sweet home: Understanding New York City soil fungal communities in green roofs and city parks

Roof garden

Green roofs are growing more common in urban communities around the world. Besides the cost savings associated with these urban green spaces; they also provide ecosystem benefits such as decreased water run-off and habitats for birds and insects.  While green roofs are well studied for their benefits to urban dwellers of the human species, little is known about the impact of their microscopic inhabitants.

In order to better understand these green roof ecosystems, researchers of a recently published paper dug in and evaluated whether or not green roofs in New York City served as a habitat for fungal communities and compared these fungal communities to the microbial composition of nearby city parks.

Their research uncovered that fungi form a diverse community, with many varieties that belong to groups capable of surviving tough conditions like disturbed and polluted habitats. According to the paper:

 Across roofs, there was significant biogeographical clustering of fungal communities, indicating that community assembly of roof microbes across the greater New York City area is locally variable… While fungal communities were compositionally distinct across green roofs, they did not differentiate by plant community.

When the roof and park soil samples were compared, the researchers found that 54% of the fungal strains where shared between park soil and green roofs.

To read more about this research and about how the fungi living on green roofs could be an undervalued piece of the green roof ecosystem click here.

Citation: McGuire KL, Payne SG, Palmer MI, Gillikin CM, Keefe D, et al. (2013) Digging the New York City Skyline: Soil Fungal Communities in Green Roofs and City Parks. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58020. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058020

Image:  Image comes from Figure 2 of the manuscript and is an image of a representative green roof from the study.

 

Summer Service Update

As we are now a month into the summer season, we wanted to let our authors know in advance that they may experience a slight delay in the peer review process of their manuscript if they submit anytime between now and the end of September. This is because many of our editorial board members and reviewers are away from the office for conferences, holidays or are conducting fieldwork during this time of year. We will do our utmost to process your manuscript in a prompt manner, but please be aware that historically, we have experienced some delays between now and September. We will endeavor to ensure that all manuscripts submitted to PLoS ONE are evaluated as quickly as possible, but please accept our advance apologies for any delays you experience.

Between our offices in the UK and the US, we will work to respond to emails sent to the PLoS ONE inbox (plosone@plos.org) as quickly as possible. However, in the meantime, you may wish to visit some of the following pages on our websites, which may help to answer your questions:

PLoS ONE launches the NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection

The following blog is by Babak Kateb, curator of the PLoS ONE NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection

One of the great challenges of the 21st century is how to translate scientific advancements from physical sciences into medicine. This gap of knowledge is also clearly visible amongst multiple disciplines within medicine (i.e. neurosurgery and radiology, neurology and neurosurgery, psychiatry and radiology and radiology and neurology). In this spirit, the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SBMT) has been successfully addressing this educational gap by bringing together physicians, surgeons, scientists and engineers from multiple disciplines to promote cross-disciplinary research and publication.

To foster increased dialogue between these communities, PLoS ONE has launched a special collection entitled SBMT NeuroMapping & Therapeutics. The SBMT encourages its members to publish their research in PLoS ONE. These articles will then be brought together into an ongoing Collection that will highlight this content.

The aim of the SBMT NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection is to provide a forum for interdisciplinary research aimed at translation of knowledge across a number of fields such as:

  • Neurosurgery (e.g. Image Guided Therapy/intervention, brain tumors and intraoperative navigation, nanoneurosurgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, minimally invasive therapy, vascular neurosurgery, functional neurosurgery…)
  • Neurology (e.g. movement disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, neurooncology, as well as image guided device implantation…)
  • Psychiatry (e.g. medical imaging for psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, PTSD…)
  • Radiology (e.g. fMRI, PET, Nuclear medicine, MR SPEC, MRI, MR-PET, DTI, CT-PET, Focused Ultrasound, SQUID MRI, low magnet MRI…)
  • Neuroscience (e.g. stem cell, molecular neuroscience, image guided mapping of genes, proteomics, genomics…)
  • Neuroengineering (e.g. iomaterial & tissue engineering, human brain Machine Interface, brain and spinal cord devices, nanomedicine, extraterrestrial/space medicine & clinical practice…)
  • Policy (e.g. healthcare policy issues that affect the treatment delivery and usage of certain devices/drugs/imaging technologies…)

This Collection will contain a selection of those articles published within PLoS ONE, which the Editorial Board of the Collection feel are representative of the aims and scope of the SBMT society.  It will continue to expand over time as the number of relevant articles grows and are added to the Collection.

The SBMT welcomes submissions to the PLoS ONE NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection. If you wish to submit your research please consider the following when preparing your manuscript:

  • Submission to PLoS ONE as part of the NMT Collection does not guarantee publication or inclusion into the final Collection due to highly competitive nature of this collection.

When you are ready to submit your manuscript to the collection, please log in to the PLoS ONE manuscript submission system and select the ‘SBMT NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection’ from the dropdown menu to ensure the PLoS ONE staff are aware of your submission.

Please contact Sam Moore (smoore@plos.org) if you would like further information about how to submit your research to the PLoS ONE NeuroMapping & Therapeutics Collection.

The following PLoS ONE Editorial Board members have agreed to assist with this collection:

  • Dr. Krystof Bankiewicz, University of California at San Francisco, US
  • Dr. Mitch Berger, University of California at San Francisco, US
  • Dr. Keith Black, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, US
  • Dr. Aria Tzika, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, US
  • Dr. Michael Lim, Johns Hopkins Hospital, US
  • Dr. Antoni Rodriguez-Fornells, University of Barcelona, Spain
  • Dr. Shawn Hochman, Emory University, US
  • Dr. Stephen Ginsberg, Nathan Kline Institute and New York University School of Medicine, US
  • Dr. Andreas Meisel, Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Hitoshi Okazawa, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan
  • Dr. Joseph El Khoury, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, US
  • Dr. Karin Peterson, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Rocky Mountain Laboratories, US
  • Dr. Tsuneya Ikezu, Boston University School of Medicine, US
  • Dr. Mike Chen, City of Hope, US
  • Dr. Christopher Wheeler, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, US
  • Dr. Maya Koronyo-Hamaoui, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, US
  • Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Johns Hopkins Hospital, US

 

Curators: Babak Kateb and Allyson C. Rosen

Announcing the Human Microbiome Project Collection

For the first time, a consortium of researchers has mapped the full community of microbes that inhabit various parts of the healthy human body. Many of these findings will be published today in a new PLoS collection. The PLoS Human Microbiome Project Collection consists of articles from the project’s consortium members, who generate, leverage, and explore microbiome analytical techniques. The articles have been culled from PLoS ONE, PLoS Genetics, and PLoS Computational Biology with more being added to the collection as they are published.

The manuscripts within the collection provide a comprehensive baseline of the microbial diversity at 18 different human body sites. This baseline includes reference genomes of thousands of host-associated microbial isolates, 3.5 terabases of metagenomic sequences, assemblies, and metabolic reconstructions, and a catalogue of over 5 million microbial genes.

Some of the studies also look at the relationships between the microbiome and the host, and how these interactions relate to health. They describe how specific microbial communities differ in relation to a number of specific conditions: the gut microbiome and  Crohn’s disease; ulcerative colitis and esophageal adenocarcinoma; the skin microbiome and psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis and immunodeficiency; and urogenital microbiome and reproductive and sexual history and circumcision and a number of childhood disorders, including pediatric abdominal pain and intestinal inflammation, and neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis.

Accompanying this collection are two articles published in the journal Nature by the Human Microbiome Project Consortium. The results of these two papers provide the foundation for the research published in the Human Microbiome Project Collection.

To read more about this collection, please visit:

PLoS Collections: The Human Microbiome Project Collection (2012) www.ploscollections.org/hmp

PLoS ONE Launches the Mice Drawer System Experiment Collection

In August 2009, the Italian Space Agency launched its Mice Drawer System (MDS) investigation on the Shuttle Discovery flight 17A/STS-128. Over the course of a 91-day mission at the International Space Station, the MDS experiment focused on the effects of microgravity on six mice. The purpose of the experiment was to investigate the structural and functional changes that occur in animals when there is an absence of normal gravity over an extended period of time.

The new PLoS ONE Collection brings together a number of articles drawn from this long-term project.

The research presented attempts to capture information on a range of mammalian physiological system changes during the space flight. Collectively the articles offer an integrative view of the mammal’s physiological response to a microgravitational climate.

The research was an international collaboration and involved scientists from several countries. With a better understanding of the effect of microgravitational conditions on mice, this research could be applied in ways to help extend the human presence in space beyond low Earth orbit.

Adapted from: Cancedda R, Liu Y, Ruggiu A, Tavella S, Biticchi R, et al. (2012) The Mice Drawer System (MDS) Experiment and the Space Endurance Record-Breaking Mice. PLoS ONE 7(5): e32243. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032243

Collection Citation: The Mice Drawer System Experiment and the Space Endurance Record-Breaking Mice (2012) PLoS Collections: http://www.ploscollections.org/Mice_Drawer_System

Using Virtual Reality to Understand Human Perception: An Author Spotlight on Andrew Glennerster

How do we visualize the world around us? To answer this question, researchers are using virtual reality to gain insight into how we perceive our surroundings. At the University of Reading, Dr. Andrew Glennerster and his international team are utilizing this technology to study how people generate a three-dimensional representation of the world around them. His recently published PLoS ONE article, A Demonstration of ‘Broken’ Visual Space, tests the theory on whether there is a one-to-one match between reference points in our internal representation of the world and those in our actual surroundings. In this author spotlight, Dr. Glennerster answers questions about his background, his research and his PLoS ONE manuscript.

Let’s start off with your background.  How did you become interested in studying human vision and what role does virtual reality play in assisting your research?

I originally studied medicine at Cambridge. It was an exciting time for vision research there, and in my 3rd year I was taught by lots of the big names in vision like Horace Barlow and John Robson. I found it fascinating and went back to studying vision after I had finished my clinical training.

I have set up a virtual reality lab because it allows us to study people’s 3D vision as they move around.  It is a much more difficult technical challenge than studying 3D vision from binocular stereopsis, like in a 3D movie, but moving around is the main way that animals see in 3D.  To study this process systematically, you need virtual reality.

In your paper, you mention that most theories on three-dimensional vision suggest that the way we represent space in our visual systems assumes that we generate a one-to-one model of space in our brains. Why did your team test this theory and what did you find?

We tested this theory because, for a long time, it has been the dominant one in the literature. It is very easy to believe people have something like a ‘model of the world’ in their heads, but by itself that is not a good argument. We need to move away from accounts that are easy to imagine yet hard to explain at a neural level and toward ones that are based on operations we know the brain can carry out even if they are more conceptually challenging. We do not yet have a well worked out alternative to the one-to-one, ‘reconstruction’  model, but there are some promising beginnings.

When a three-dimensional illusion is depicted in a two-dimensional picture, certain paradoxes occur that wouldn’t be possible to replicate in real life. Given this, how does the Penrose staircase illusion, included in Figure 1 of your paper, compare to your experiment? Where there any similarities?

The similarity between the Penrose staircase and people’s representation of space is that if you tried to build a real 3D model of either you would fail. You cannot make sense of people’s responses in this experiment using a real 3D model. People believe they are in a stable room during the whole experiment. Anyone who suggests that a stable perception comes from the observer having an unchanging 3D ‘model’ of the environment in their head has a difficult time explaining these data. If you try to pick coordinates in some perceptual space for each of the objects in the experiment then you get tangled up in just the same way that you do with the Penrose staircase: you cannot say whether one object is in front of or behind another one. The solution is to give up trying to assign coordinates to each of the objects.

How does your research help further our understanding of human perception? Does it have real world applications?

There is an increasing focus within visual neuroscience on the issue of stability: what is it in the brain that remains constant as we move our eyes around and, even more problematically, as we walk around?

What’s next? Where do you hope to go from here?

This paper attacks the current dominant model, but the next, more positive, stage is to build coherent alternative models. I believe that working with colleagues in computer vision is a good way to do this as robots have to deal with images arriving in real time and react accordingly. Currently in computer vision, new types of representation are being developed that are not at all like a reconstruction. These can act as an inspiration for testable models of human vision. Equally, if neuroscientists produce good evidence about how the brain represents a scene, it could influence the way that mobile robots are programmed.

To learn more about University of Reading’s Virtual Reality Research Group and Dr. Andrew Glennerster’s work, click here. To find more PLoS ONE research on human vision and virtual reality click here.