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New Articles in PLOS Biology

PUBLISHED: January 01, 2017 to January 31, 2017

Primer

Human-Specific Cortical Synaptic Connections and Their Plasticity: Is That What Makes Us Human?

What distinguishes the human brain from that of other mammals? This Primer examines the implications of the recent demonstration the exclusive plasticity of a specific synapse between pyramidal neurons and fast-spiking interneurons of the human neocortex.

Unsolved Mystery

Where Have All the Giants Gone? How Animals Deal with the Problem of Size

This Essay proposes that animals have a limited number of biomechanical strategies to reduce musculoskeletal stress; this fact probably constrained the locomotor speeds of extinct giant animals.

Perspective

The Sharing Experimental Animal Resources, Coordinating Holdings (SEARCH) Framework: Encouraging Reduction, Replacement, and Refinement in Animal Research

The authors make an economic, ethical and academic case for SEARCH; an innovative approach towards making precious surplus material derived from animal studies in biomedical research more visible and accessible to the scientific community.

Community Page

A Webcast of Bird Nesting as a State-of-the-Art Citizen Science

This Community Page article presents a webcast of bird nesting as an example of a state-of-the-art Citizen Science project with educational, scientific and popularizing benefits.

Open Highlights

A Swarm of Bee Research

Bees are amazing little creatures; while some of them live solitary lifestyles, many bee species form large colonies and function as a superorganism. This article discusses some of the recent advances in our understanding of these fascinating insects. Browse the collection here.

Research Articles

Marine Reserve Targets to Sustain and Rebuild Unregulated Fisheries

Scaling up no-take marine reserve coverage to 20-30% of fished habitat should benefit both biodiversity and fisheries where they are most threatened.

Proteolytic Origin of the Soluble Human IL-6R In Vivo and a Decisive Role of N-Glycosylation

The soluble interleukin-6 receptor (sIL-6R) can mediate pro-inflammatory IL-6 trans-signaling throughout the body. This study reveals that sIL-6R is generated by proteolysis in humans, a process that is controlled by a single N-glycosylation site within its extracellular domain.

The Global Distribution and Drivers of Alien Bird Species Richness

A new global database of alien bird distributions shows which parts of the world are rich in alien bird species, and why.

The Neural Representation of Prospective Choice during Spatial Planning and Decisions

Using neuroimaging and computational modelling, this study explains how the human brain represents initial versus subsequent choices during spatial planning in novel environments.

Digital Health: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information

By tracking personal activities and physiology, wearable biosensors can provide information useful in managing human health.

The Yin and Yang of Memory Consolidation: Hippocampal and Neocortical

Hippocampal memory traces followed by novelty are more dominant by default but are liable to interference; by contrast, sleep engages a lasting stabilization of cortical traces and consequent trace dominance after pre-exposure.

The Nuclear Receptor HIZR-1 Uses Zinc as a Ligand to Mediate Homeostasis in Response to High Zinc

The transcription factor HIZR-1 is a nuclear receptor that uses zinc ions as a physiological ligand and mediates high zinc homeostasis in an animal. This establishes a new class of ligands for nuclear receptors and a new role as nutritional sensors.

Widespread Genetic Incompatibilities between First-Step Mutations during Parallel Adaptation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to a Common Environment

A study of yeast adapted to the fungicide nystatin finds that the first step toward speciation (partial postzygotic reproductive isolation) can evolve rapidly in populations under similar selective pressures.

Bigger Is Fitter? Quantitative Genetic Decomposition of Selection Reveals an Adaptive Evolutionary Decline of Body Mass in a Wild Rodent Population

A population of snow voles provides a rare example of contemporary adaptive evolution in the wild, but without a quantitative genetic perspective this genetic change, and the selective pressure that underlies it, would have gone undetected.

Lung Basal Stem Cells Rapidly Repair DNA Damage Using the Error-Prone Nonhomologous End-Joining Pathway

This study reveals the importance of fine-tuned regulation of DNA repair in lung stem cells and progenitor cells, in which both error-prone repair and failure to repair may contribute to lung diseases.

Brain–Computer Interface–Based Communication in the Completely Locked-In State

"Locked in" patients suffering from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with no reliable means of communication, can learn to answer questions requiring a “yes” or “no” thought using frontocentral oxygenation changes measurable by functional near-infrared spectroscopy.

Corrections

Correction: Phylosymbiosis: Relationships and Functional Effects of Microbial Communities across Host Evolutionary History

Correction: Mitochondrial 16S rRNA Is Methylated by tRNA Methyltransferase TRMT61B in All Vertebrates

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