Hefty correction in JBC for GMO researchers in image tampering case
Last November we wrote about the case of Alejandra Bravo and Mario Soberón, a wife-husband team of microbiologists studying genetically modified crops, who had been disciplined by the National Autonomous University of Mexico for having manipulated images in 11 papers.
The tinkering did not rise to the level of fraud, according to the university — which perhaps helps explain why it didn’t lead to requests for retractions, according to Soberón. Instead, he said at the time, at least seven journals would be issuing corrections. We now have what appears to be the first of these, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The JBC paper, “Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab mutants affecting oligomer formation are non-toxic to Manduca sexta larvae,” was published in 2007 and has been cited 35 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
According to the correction notice, it contained three manipulated images:
The original Fig. 2 was improperly edited to remove stains from the blot. The image provided in this correction was obtained from a replicate experiment performed under the same experimental conditions. It shows the same result as the original figure but was not edited.
The original Fig. 3A was improperly edited to shift positions of the bands corresponding to the mutant L100E (lane 3) and the mutant I200D (lane 4) because the migration appeared to be anomalous relative to the positions of the other bands in the blot. The image provided in this correction was obtained from a replicate experiment performed using the same experimental conditions. In the new blot, all bands run similarly without editing.
The original Figs. 3C and 4A contained merged lanes from the same blot (Fig. 3C) or from different blots (Fig. 4A). In the corrected Figs. 3C and 4A, we added white lines to indicate that some lanes of these figures came from different gels. The new figures in this correction contain the same information as the published figures and do not change the results or their interpretation.
We’re curious to see how the six other journals handle the matter.