New and Exciting in PLoS ONE

There are 19 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, 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:
BioTorrents: A File Sharing Service for Scientific Data:

The transfer of scientific data has emerged as a significant challenge, as datasets continue to grow in size and demand for open access sharing increases. Current methods for file transfer do not scale well for large files and can cause long transfer times. In this study we present BioTorrents, a website that allows open access sharing of scientific data and uses the popular BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing technology. BioTorrents allows files to be transferred rapidly due to the sharing of bandwidth across multiple institutions and provides more reliable file transfers due to the built-in error checking of the file sharing technology. BioTorrents contains multiple features, including keyword searching, category browsing, RSS feeds, torrent comments, and a discussion forum. BioTorrents is available at

One of the autors is Jonathan Eisen who is likely to have more information and offer to answer questions on his blog soon.
Tyrannobdella rex N. Gen. N. Sp. and the Evolutionary Origins of Mucosal Leech Infestations:

Leeches have gained a fearsome reputation by feeding externally on blood, often from human hosts. Orificial hirudiniasis is a condition in which a leech enters a body orifice, most often the nasopharyngeal region, but there are many cases of leeches infesting the eyes, urethra, vagina, or rectum. Several leech species particularly in Africa and Asia are well-known for their propensity to afflict humans. Because there has not previously been any data suggesting a close relationship for such geographically disparate species, this unnerving tendency to be invasive has been regarded only as a loathsome oddity and not a unifying character for a group of related organisms. A new genus and species of leech from Perú was found feeding from the nasopharynx of humans. Unlike any other leech previously described, this new taxon has but a single jaw with very large teeth. Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial genes using parsimony and Bayesian inference demonstrate that the new species belongs among a larger, global clade of leeches, all of which feed from the mucosal surfaces of mammals. This new species, found feeding from the upper respiratory tract of humans in Perú, clarifies an expansion of the family Praobdellidae to include the new species Tyrannobdella rex n. gen. n.sp., along with others in the genera Dinobdella, Myxobdella, Praobdella and Pintobdella. Moreover, the results clarify a single evolutionary origin of a group of leeches that specializes on mucous membranes, thus, posing a distinct threat to human health.

Ed Yong has a quick write-up of this article.
Differential Brain Activation to Angry Faces by Elite Warfighters: Neural Processing Evidence for Enhanced Threat Detection:

Little is known about the neural basis of elite performers and their optimal performance in extreme environments. The purpose of this study was to examine brain processing differences between elite warfighters and comparison subjects in brain structures that are important for emotion processing and interoception. Navy Sea, Air, and Land Forces (SEALs) while off duty (n = 11) were compared with n = 23 healthy male volunteers while performing a simple emotion face-processing task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Irrespective of the target emotion, elite warfighters relative to comparison subjects showed relatively greater right-sided insula, but attenuated left-sided insula, activation. Navy SEALs showed selectively greater activation to angry target faces relative to fearful or happy target faces bilaterally in the insula. This was not accounted for by contrasting positive versus negative emotions. Finally, these individuals also showed slower response latencies to fearful and happy target faces than did comparison subjects. These findings support the hypothesis that elite warfighters deploy greater processing resources toward potential threat-related facial expressions and reduced processing resources to non-threat-related facial expressions. Moreover, rather than expending more effort in general, elite warfighters show more focused neural and performance tuning. In other words, greater neural processing resources are directed toward threat stimuli and processing resources are conserved when facing a nonthreat stimulus situation.

Full Text and Figure Display Improves Bioscience Literature Search:

When reading bioscience journal articles, many researchers focus attention on the figures and their captions. This observation led to the development of the BioText literature search engine [1], a freely available Web-based application that allows biologists to search over the contents of Open Access Journals, and see figures from the articles displayed directly in the search results. This article presents a qualitative assessment of this system in the form of a usability study with 20 biologist participants using and commenting on the system. 19 out of 20 participants expressed a desire to use a bioscience literature search engine that displays articles’ figures alongside the full text search results. 15 out of 20 participants said they would use a caption search and figure display interface either frequently or sometimes, while 4 said rarely and 1 said undecided. 10 out of 20 participants said they would use a tool for searching the text of tables and their captions either frequently or sometimes, while 7 said they would use it rarely if at all, 2 said they would never use it, and 1 was undecided. This study found evidence, supporting results of an earlier study, that bioscience literature search systems such as PubMed should show figures from articles alongside search results. It also found evidence that full text and captions should be searched along with the article title, metadata, and abstract. Finally, for a subset of users and information needs, allowing for explicit search within captions for figures and tables is a useful function, but it is not entirely clear how to cleanly integrate this within a more general literature search interface. Such a facility supports Open Access publishing efforts, as it requires access to full text of documents and the lifting of restrictions in order to show figures in the search interface.

Molecules Clarify a Cnidarian Life Cycle – The “Hydrozoan” Microhydrula limopsicola Is an Early Life Stage of the Staurozoan Haliclystus antarcticus:

Life cycles of medusozoan cnidarians vary widely, and have been difficult to document, especially in the most recently proposed class Staurozoa. However, molecular data can be a useful tool to elucidate medusozoan life cycles by tying together different life history stages. Genetic data from fast-evolving molecular markers (mitochondrial 16S, nuclear ITS1, and nuclear ITS2) show that animals that were presumed to be a hydrozoan, Microhydrula limopsicola (Limnomedusae, Microhydrulidae), are actually an early stage of the life cycle of the staurozoan Haliclystus antarcticus (Stauromedusae, Lucernariidae). Similarity between the haplotypes of three markers of Microhydrula limopsicola and Haliclystus antarcticus settles the identity of these taxa, expanding our understanding of the staurozoan life cycle, which was thought to be more straightforward and simple. A synthetic discussion of prior observations makes sense of the morphological, histological and behavioral similarities/congruence between Microhydrula and Haliclystus. The consequences are likely to be replicated in other medusozoan groups. For instance we hypothesize that other species of Microhydrulidae are likely to represent life stages of other species of Staurozoa.

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