New and Exciting in PLoS ONE

There are 19 new articles published last night and 22 new articles published today in PLoS ONE. 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, Mendeley, 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:
Energy Stores Are Not Altered by Long-Term Partial Sleep Deprivation in Drosophila melanogaster:

Recent human studies reveal a widespread association between short sleep and obesity. Two hypotheses, which are not mutually exclusive, might explain this association. First, genetic factors that reduce endogenous sleep times might also impact energy stores, an assertion that we confirmed in a previous study. Second, metabolism may be altered by chronic partial sleep deprivation. Here we address the second assertion by measuring the impact of long-term partial sleep deprivation on energy stores using Drosophila as a model. We subjected flies to long-term partial sleep deprivation via two different methods: a mechanical stimulus and a light stimulus. We then measured whole-body triglycerides and glycogen, two important sources of energy for the fly, and compared them to un-stimulated controls. We also measured changes in energy stores in response to a random circadian clock shift. Sex and line-dependent alterations in glycogen and/or triglyceride levels occurred in response to the circadian clock shift and in flies subjected to a single night of sleep deprivation using light. Thus, consistent with previous studies, our findings suggest that acute sleep loss and changes to the circadian clock can alter metabolism. Significant changes in energy stores were also observed when flies were subjected to chronic sleep loss via the mechanical stimulus, although not the light stimulus. Interestingly, mechanical stimulation resulted in the same change in energy stores even when it was not associated with sleep deprivation, suggesting that the changes are caused by stress rather than sleep loss. These findings emphasize the importance of taking stress into account when evaluating the relationship between sleep loss and metabolism.

Explaining Lengths and Shapes of Yeast by Scaling Arguments:

Lengths and shapes are approached in different ways in different fields: they serve as a read-out for classifying genes or proteins in cell biology whereas they result from scaling arguments in condensed matter physics. Here, we propose a combined approach with examples illustrated for the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

Certainty in Categorical Judgment of Size:

The certainty of judgment (or self-confidence) has been traditionally studied in relation with the accuracy. However, from an observer’s viewpoint, certainty may be more closely related to the consistency of judgment than to its accuracy: consistent judgments are objectively certain in the sense that any external observer can rely on these judgments to happen. The regions of certain vs. uncertain judgment were determined in a categorical rating experiment. The participants rated the size of visual objects on a 5-point scale. There was no feedback so that there were no constraints of accuracy. Individual data was examined, and the ratings were characterized by their frequency distributions (or categories). The main result was that the individual categories always presented a core of certainty where judgment was totally consistent, and large peripheries where judgment was inconsistent. In addition, the geometry of cores and boundaries exhibited several phenomena compatible with the literature on visual categorical judgment. The ubiquitous presence of cores in absence of accuracy constraints provided insights about objective certainty that may complement the literature on subjective certainty (self-confidence) and the accuracy of judgment.

Decaying Raphia farinifera Palm Trees Provide a Source of Sodium for Wild Chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest, Uganda:

For some years, chimpanzees have been observed eating the pith of decaying palm trees of Raphia farinifera in the Budongo Forest, Uganda. The reasons for doing this have until now been unknown. An analysis of the pith for mineral content showed high levels of sodium to be present in the samples. By contrast, lower levels were found in bark of other tree species, and also in leaf and fruit samples eaten by chimpanzees. The differences between the Raphia samples and the non-Raphia samples were highly significant (p<0.001). It is concluded that Raphia provides a rich and possibly essential source of sodium for the Budongo chimpanzees. Comparison of a chewed sample (wadge) of Raphia pith with a sample from the tree showed a clear reduction in sodium content in the chewed sample. Black and white colobus monkeys in Budongo Forest also feed on the pith of Raphia. At present, the survival of Raphia palms in Budongo Forest is threatened by the use of this tree by local tobacco farmers.

Contemporary Parallel Diversification, Antipredator Adaptations and Phenotypic Integration in an Aquatic Isopod:

It is increasingly being recognized that predation can be a strong diversifying agent promoting ecological divergence. Adaptations against different predatory regimes can emerge over short periods of time and include many different traits. We studied antipredator adaptations in two ecotypes of an isopod (Asellus aquaticus) that have, diverged in parallel in two Swedish lakes over the last two decades. We quantified differences in escape speed, morphology and behavior for isopods from different ecotypes present in these lakes. Isopods from the source habitat (reed) coexist with mainly invertebrate predators. They are more stream-profiled and have higher escape speeds than isopods in the newly colonized stonewort habitat, which has higher density of fish predators. Stonewort isopods also show more cautious behaviors and had higher levels of phenotypic integration between coloration and morphological traits than the reed isopods. Colonization of a novel habitat with a different predation regime has thus strengthened the correlations between pigmentation and morphology and weakened escape performance. The strong signature of parallelism for these phenotypic traits indicates that divergence is likely to be adaptive and is likely to have been driven by differences in predatory regimes. Furthermore, our results indicate that physical performance, behavior and morphology can change rapidly and in concert as new habitats are colonized.

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