Paper on plant immunity can’t fight off manipulation


A paper on how plants respond to bacteria has an invader of its own — data manipulation.

The “irregularities and inappropriate data manipulation” were found in a figure produced by the first author, Ching-Wei Chen, whose LinkedIn page lists him as a student at the National Taiwan University. The authors were unable to replicate the results in the figure, according to the note.

The authors are doing more experiments to verify the main conclusion of the 2014 paper, “The Arabidopsis Malectin-Like Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor-Like Kinase IOS1 Associates with the Pattern Recognition Receptors FLS2 and EFR and Is Critical for Priming of Pattern-Triggered Immunity,” published in The Plant Cell.

The retraction note explains the what happened in more detail:

After publication of the article, we discovered irregularities and inappropriate data manipulation in Figure 6C produced by the first author Ching-Wei Chen from the Zimmerli laboratory. Specifically, the same blot image improperly appears twice in Figure 6, once in Figure 6A corresponding to the IP: a-GFP blot for FLS2-GFP and again in Figure 6C as IP: a-GFP for CERK1-GFP. We repeated these experiments but found that the original results associated with Figure 6C could not be replicated and instead suggest the potential for interaction between IOS1 and CERK1 in vivo in Nicotiana benthamiana. This raises questions about some of the conclusions of the article, and we feel the best course of action is to retract the article. We believe a major conclusion of the article remains unaffected, namely, that IOS1 is involved in the regulation of flg22- and elf18-triggered responses. However, we cannot rule out an additional role for IOS1 in mediating signaling by CERK1. We are undertaking follow-up experiments to verify the major findings and clarify the role of IOS1 in plant immunity signaling.

The paper has been cited six times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We reached out to last author Laurent Zimmerli, a professor at the National Taiwan University, for more information. We’ll update this post with anything else we learn. We were unable to find contact information for Chen.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen 

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