A number of papers published in PLoS ONE in 2008 have been featured in some recent round-ups of the year's best—and quirkiest—research. From worm grunting to an explanation for the superior sound of Stradivarius violins compared with modern violins, as ever, the highlighted articles cover a wide range of different scientific disciplines and topics.
An article by Haoran Wang and colleagues reporting on the high-frequency calls made by male mice during mating (which the researchers found to be associated with genes that control positive emotions) was highlighted in New Scientist's round-up of the top 10 genetics stories of 2008.
Charles Limb and Allen Braun's article on the neural activity involved in jazz improvisation featured in Nature's Research Highlights of 2008 (as was a PLoS Biology article on the control of gene expression in yeast).
Ken Catania's paper on the workings of worm grunting, a technique practiced in parts of the southeastern United States to bring worms to the surface of the ground to collect them to use as bait, appeared in the top 10 ScienceNOWs of 2008 selected by Science magazine. The PLoS ONE article contains a number of movies for those whose curiosity for this topic has not yet been sated.
An article by Janet Mann and colleagues, which posed the age-old question, “Why Do Dolphins Carry Sponges?” and in which the researchers describe the first clear-cut example of tool use in dolphins, appeared in Science News’s review of the year in life sciences.
Also included in a Science News round-up of the year was a study by Andrew Pask and colleagues, which made the list of 2008’s best stories on genes and cells. The researchers inserted genes extracted from Tasmanian tiger specimens into a mouse embryo. This was the first time that DNA from an extinct animal has functioned inside a living host.
In an article published in July, Dutch researcher Berend Stoel, in collaboration with luthier Terry Borman, reported that it is the wood density of certain classical violins (such as those made by Stradivari) that gives them a superior sound quality. Wired ranked its story on the study as one of the 13 most popular science stories of the year.
Finally, from the melodic to the mysterious, an article by Amir Grosman and colleagues in the Netherlands, who reported the finding that parasitoid wasp larvae, having partially developed inside caterpillars, manipulate their hosts into protecting them by acting as bodyguards. The study made New Scientist's list of the year's weirdest animals.
It's great to see these articles, which were all covered by the press and in the blogosphere at the time of original publication, being highlighted again, along with those studies which were blogged as part of the recent PLoS ONE second birthday synchroblogging competition. We hope that articles published in PLoS ONE will continue to make appearances in the media throughout 2009 and beyond!