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This week in PLOS Biology

In PLOS Biology this week, you can read about interdisciplinary community building, how yeast cells deal with stress, 3D printing and conservation of the Antarctic.

Image credit: pbio.1001885

During their lifetime, cells accumulate damage such as aggregated proteins, which is inherited by the daughter cells when the mother cell divides. In cells that normally divide symmetrically, such as the yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe it has been shown that under stress conditions this can change and the cells switch to asymmetric division. Miguel Coelho, Iva Tolić and colleagues have shown in a new study how this adaptively valuable transition is achieved. Under stress, more and larger clumps of protein are created, which after one or two cell divisions end up in one huge cluster – this can only be passed onto one daughter cell, leaving the other pristine. Read more in the accompanying synopsis.


This week a Community Page by Holly BikDavid Coil and Jonathan Eisen highlights the Microbiology of the Built Environment Network (microBEnet), which was formed as an experiment in interdisciplinary community building. It aimed to bring together investigators and stakeholders in a new area of research: the microbiology of the built environment (MBE). This field was born of the observation that as modern humans we spend most of our time indoors, and yet we know little about the countless microorganisms that exist within buildings.


Image credit: pbio.1001882

3D printing, originally developed for plastic and metal manufacturing, now represents high hopes for applications to human tissue and organ engineering. In his Essay, Jordan Miller discusses the key challenges that remain in this endeavour, and the conceptual targets on the horizon. Examples of possible opportunities that are highlighted include building physiologically relevant models of disease and testing drugs on human tissues fabricated with 3D printers.


Image credit: pbio.1001888

In their Perspective on the Antarctic, Steven Chown, Justine Shaw and colleagues argue that with a surge in visitors, Antarctica’s ice-free land needs better protection from human activities. Global comparisons show that Antarctica’s terrestrial biodiversity is poorly protected; only 1.5% of its ice-free regions were found to be protected formally. They highlight the fact that this means Antarctica currently falls well short of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets – an international biodiversity strategy that aims to reduce threats to biodiversity, and protect ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.


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