New and Exciting in PLoS ONE

There are 12 new articles in PLoS ONE today. As always, you should rate the articles, post notes and comments and send trackbacks when you blog about the papers. You can now also easily place articles on various social services (CiteULike, Connotea, Stumbleupon, Facebook and Digg) with just one click. Here are my own picks for the week – you go and look for your own favourites:
Adult-Generated Hippocampal Neurons Allow the Flexible Use of Spatially Precise Learning Strategies:

Despite enormous progress in the past few years the specific contribution of newly born granule cells to the function of the adult hippocampus is still not clear. We hypothesized that in order to solve this question particular attention has to be paid to the specific design, the analysis, and the interpretation of the learning test to be used. We thus designed a behavioral experiment along hypotheses derived from a computational model predicting that new neurons might be particularly relevant for learning conditions, in which novel aspects arise in familiar situations, thus putting high demands on the qualitative aspects of (re-)learning.
In the reference memory version of the water maze task suppression of adult neurogenesis with temozolomide (TMZ) caused a highly specific learning deficit. Mice were tested in the hidden platform version of the Morris water maze (6 trials per day for 5 days with a reversal of the platform location on day 4). Testing was done at 4 weeks after the end of four cycles of treatment to minimize the number of potentially recruitable new neurons at the time of testing. The reduction of neurogenesis did not alter longterm potentiation in CA3 and the dentate gyrus but abolished the part of dentate gyrus LTP that is attributed to the new neurons. TMZ did not have any overt side effects at the time of testing, and both treated mice and controls learned to find the hidden platform. Qualitative analysis of search strategies, however, revealed that treated mice did not advance to spatially precise search strategies, in particular when learning a changed goal position (reversal). New neurons in the dentate gyrus thus seem to be necessary for adding flexibility to some hippocampus-dependent qualitative parameters of learning.
Our finding that a lack of adult-generated granule cells specifically results in the animal’s inability to precisely locate a hidden goal is also in accordance with a specialized role of the dentate gyrus in generating a metric rather than just a configurational map of the environment. The discovery of highly specific behavioral deficits as consequence of a suppression of adult hippocampal neurogenesis thus allows to link cellular hippocampal plasticity to well-defined hypotheses from theoretical models.

Sexual Conflict and Sexually Antagonistic Coevolution in an Annual Plant:

Sexual conflict theory predicts sexually antagonistic coevolution of reproductive traits driven by conflicting evolutionary interests of two reproducing individuals. Most studies of the evolutionary consequences of sexual conflicts have, however, to date collectively investigated only a few species. In this study we used the annual herb Collinsia heterophylla to experimentally test the existence and evolutionary consequences of a potential sexual conflict over onset of stigma receptivity. We conducted crosses within and between four greenhouse-grown populations originating from two regions. Our experimental setup allowed us to investigate male-female interactions at three levels of geographic distances between interacting individuals. Both recipient and pollen donor identity affected onset of stigma receptivity within populations, confirming previous results that some pollen donors can induce stigma receptivity. We also found that donors were generally better at inducing stigma receptivity following pollen deposition on stigmas of recipients from another population than their own, especially within a region. On the other hand, we found that donors did worse at inducing stigma receptivity in crosses between regions. Interestingly, recipient costs in terms of lowered seed number after early fertilisation followed the same pattern: the cost was apparent only if the pollen donor belonged to the same region as the recipient. Our results indicate that recipients are released from the cost of interacting with local pollen donors when crossed with donors from a more distant location, a pattern consistent with a history of sexually antagonistic coevolution within populations. Accordingly, sexual conflicts may have important evolutionary consequences also in plants.

Comments are closed.