“[T]he data and findings…are unreliable:” Authors explain how a refutation came to be published in the same journal as the original

A rotifer, via Wikimedia

A group of tiny, all-female animals called bdelloid rotifers has long fascinated scientists. Among other questions, of course, is: Why haven’t they gone extinct, if they can’t mix up their genes? In 2016, a group of authors published a paper in Current Biology claiming to show that rotifers could swap DNA the way bacteria do. But a paper published earlier this month in the same journal found “clear evidence that the data and findings of [that study] are unreliable.” It’s unusual for a journal to publish a full paper clearly refuting another — and Current Biology left the original paper as is, without even a link to the new one. The authors of the new paper — Chris Wilson, Reuben Nowell, and Tim Barraclough, all of Imperial College London — explain how all of this came to pass, and why the authors of the original paper deserve praise.

RW: You and others refer to asexual rotifers as an “evolutionary scandal.” Can you explain? Continue reading “[T]he data and findings…are unreliable:” Authors explain how a refutation came to be published in the same journal as the original

“Will you marry me?”: An unusual note sneaks into acknowledgements of scientific paper

This is an artistic life reconstruction of the new horned dinosaur Regaliceratops peterhewsi in the palaeoenvironment of the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. SOURCE: Art by Julius T. Csotonyi. Courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta.
Artist’s rendering of Regaliceratops peterhewsi, by Julius T. Csotonyi, courtesy of Royal Tyrrell Museum

Scientists have discovered the skull of a new dinosaur, a feathered relative of the Triceratops, according to new findings released in Current Biology today.

Now, we know what you may be thinking – we don’t normally cover science news. We’re writing about this paper because of a little note we saw in the acknowledgements:

Continue reading “Will you marry me?”: An unusual note sneaks into acknowledgements of scientific paper

Cabbage batch skids: new experiments dry up plant paper

current biologyProminent plant researcher Mark Estelle has retracted a paper on plant hormones after follow-up studies showed the conclusions were incorrect.

The hormone in question, auxin, is a major player in plant growth and development. The retracted Current Biology paper reported that a certain auxin receptor, designated AFB4, downregulates the responses of cabbage-cousin Arabidopsis thaliana to the signaling molecule. But after publication, the researchers experimented with a mutant seedling that didn’t produce the receptor, and discovered it didn’t overreact to auxin signals, indicating the receptor wasn’t playing a major role in limiting the effects.

Estelle, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator based at the University of California, San Diego, told us he and his team are working on a paper that will contain the accurate data from the paper, along with new findings.

Here’s the notice for “The AFB4 Auxin Receptor Is a Negative Regulator of Auxin Signaling in Seedlings”, which has 62 citations, per Google Scholar: Continue reading Cabbage batch skids: new experiments dry up plant paper

Authors retract Current Biology study following criticism on PubPeer and university investigation

current biologyThe authors of a Current Biology paper published online in February of this year have retracted it after voluminous criticism on post-publication review site PubPeer and a university committee found evidence of figure manipulation.

The paper, “Agonist-Induced GPCR Shedding from the Ciliary Surface Is Dependent on ESCRT-III and VPS4,” was co-authored by Hua Jin and Livana Soetedjo, a graduate student in Jin’s lab. Soetedjo was first author, and Jin was corresponding author.

The comments at PubPeer began on March 24: Continue reading Authors retract Current Biology study following criticism on PubPeer and university investigation

Image correction in Current Biology for Harvard’s Sam Lee

The work of Sam W. Lee, a cancer biologist at Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, has come under fire at Science Fraud lately over concerns about the possible reuse of images in his group’s published studies.

Turns out there’s some there, there after all. The journal Current Biology has issued a pretty thorny correction for one of Lee’s 2006 articles, “RhoE Is a Pro-Survival p53 Target Gene that Inhibits ROCK I-Mediated Apoptosis in Response to Genotoxic Stress,” citing multiple issues with its figures: Continue reading Image correction in Current Biology for Harvard’s Sam Lee