PLoS ONE issues expression of concern when company won’t share bacterial strain
The editors of PLoS ONE have issued an expression of concern for a 2014 article on a form of nitrogen-fixing bacteria called Bacillus pumilus.
The reason: The company that provided the strain of microbe used in the research won’t let other researchers look at the organism.
The article is titled “Bacillus pumilus Reveals a Remarkably High Resistance to Hydrogen Peroxide Provoked Oxidative Stress,” and it came from a group led by Stefan Handtke, of the University of Greifswald, in Germany.
Here’s the notice:
Following publication of this article, a reader made a request for the Bacillus pumilus Jo2 strain employed in this study.
The PLOS ONE policy governing the sharing of materials and data that applies to articles submitted before March 3, 2014, requires that authors agree to make freely available any materials and data described in their publication that may be reasonably requested for the purpose of academic, non-commercial research.
The journal evaluated the request and concluded that it falls within the requirements of the policy above. The journal has contacted the authors, who indicated that Henkel, the company that provided the strain, will not share the strain or its genome sequence with other researchers and that they were not aware of this restriction on the availability of the strain at the time at which the study was conducted. This is not in line with the journal’s policy and the authors’ declaration of adherence to its requirements.
The editors are issuing this Expression of Concern to alert readers about the fact that the Bacillus pumilus Jo2 strain employed in this study is not available, and thus that the article is in breach of the journal’s editorial policy.
And here’s the abstract of the article in question:
Bacillus pumilus is characterized by a higher oxidative stress resistance than other comparable industrially relevant Bacilli such as B. subtilis or B. licheniformis. In this study the response of B. pumilus to oxidative stress was investigated during a treatment with high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at the proteome, transcriptome and metabolome level. Genes/proteins belonging to regulons, which are known to have important functions in the oxidative stress response of other organisms, were found to be upregulated, such as the Fur, Spx, SOS or CtsR regulon. Strikingly, parts of the fundamental PerR regulon responding to peroxide stress in B. subtilis are not encoded in the B. pumilus genome. Thus, B. pumilus misses the catalase KatA, the DNA-protection protein MrgA or the alkyl hydroperoxide reductase AhpCF. Data of this study suggests that the catalase KatX2 takes over the function of the missing KatA in the oxidative stress response of B. pumilus. The genome-wide expression analysis revealed an induction of bacillithiol (Cys-GlcN-malate, BSH) relevant genes. An analysis of the intracellular metabolites detected high intracellular levels of this protective metabolite, which indicates the importance of bacillithiol in the peroxide stress resistance of B. pumilus.