Almond, no joy: Plant geneticist in Iran up to at least six retractions

A plant geneticist in Iran is up to at least six retractions for misuse of figures and other material from previously published papers. 

The newest retraction involves a 2017 paper in Scientific Reports, a Springer Nature publication, titled “Comparison of traditional and new generation DNA markers declares high genetic diversity and differentiated population structure of wild almond species.” PubPeer commenters have been discussing it for some seven months.

According to the notice

After publication concerns were raised that there were anomalies in Supplementary Figures 1 and 2. However, the authors were unable to provide higher resolution images to allow the veracity of these data to be confirmed. Additionally the graph showing the genetic diversity of the wild almond species, which is a part of Figures 1, 2, 3 and 5, appears to be a duplication of a graph showing the genetic diversity of the liquorice species in Figure 2 in Hakimi et al.1, of the barley species in Figure 2 in Rouhain et al.2, and of olive species in Figures 1 and 2 in Khaleghi et al.3.

The Editors therefore no longer have confidence in the validity of the results and conclusions reported in this article.

All authors agree with the retraction.

The first author on the article is Karim Sorkheh, of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Breeding at Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz. 

Sorkheh’s name appears on at least five other retracted papers in Biochemical Genetics, another Springer Nature journal, such as “Genetic structure and diversity analysis revealed by AFLP markers on different Glycyrrhiza glabra L. an endangered medicinal species from south of Iran and implications for conservation,” which appeared in 2016. His co-authors on the papers — many of whom also have multiple retractions — are in Ethiopia, Hungary, and Turkey.

Per the retraction notice

This article has been retracted by the Publisher in agreement with the Editor-in-Chief, because it contains portions of writings on the same topic already published and without sufficient attribution to these earlier works being given. The principal authors of the paper acknowledged that text from background sources was mistakenly used in this article without proper reference to the original source. Upon investigation carried out according to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ guidelines, it has been found that the authors have duplicated or rephrased substantial parts from other articles of which the main sources are the following:

Sorkheh K, Shiran B, Gradziel TM, Epperson BK, Martinez-Gomez P, Asadi E (2007) Amplified fragment length polymorphism as a tool for molecular characterization of almond germplasm: genetic diversity among cultivated genotypes and related wild species of almond, and its relationships with agronomic traits. Euphytica 156:237–344.

Zhan JT, Xu B, Li M (2010) Genetic diversity of populations of an endangered medicinal plant species (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) in different environments of North China. J Med Plants Res 4:830–836.

The journal has a similar notice for the October 2016 article “Peroxidase gene-based estimation of genetic relationships and population structure among wild Pistacia species populations” and for the November 2017 article “Potential start codon targeted (SCoT) and interretrotransposon amplified polymorphism (IRAP) markers for evaluation of genetic diversity and conservation of wild Pistacia species population.” 

 We emailed Sorkheh — two of whose other papers have caught the attention of PubPeer commenters — for comment but have yet to hear back.

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One thought on “Almond, no joy: Plant geneticist in Iran up to at least six retractions”

  1. Glycyrrhiza glabra is just liquorice, so the species as a whole is definitely not “an endangered medicinal species “. Perhaps some subspecies or something…

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