Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Physiology, Volume 79.

The first article to catch my attention inthis volume, “A Critical and Comparative Review of Fluorescent Tools for Live-Cell Imaging” by Elizabeth A. Specht et al., conjured  for me images of white-coated researchers anxiously holding fluorescent light tubes over microscopes. This amusing vision was, of course, very fleeting, and the last remnants were swept away when I started reading the article and realized biological researchers use the phrase “fluorescent tool” in reference to the fluorescent markers, dyes, and sensors in biological samples. These tools are much more complicated and diverse than I realized and I was very interested in learning about how they work:

This review provides a broad overview of well-established fluorescent tools, with an eye toward recent developments and emerging technologies, and it refers the reader to more comprehensive and detailed reviews on individual techniques and applications. We begin with a discussion of general classes of fluorophores and their advantages and disadvantages for various applications. We then discuss methods for labeling a molecule of interest with a fluorescent moiety—including fluorescent protein fusions, incorporation of fluorescent moieties through nonnatural amino acid substitution, chemical labeling, and antibody labeling—emphasizing applications in live cells. We briefly review applications for monitoring proteins, which are already well established, and then focus on the extension of these techniques to high-throughput proteomics and screening.

Next on my personal reading list is the article by Johannes Overgaard & Heath A. Macmillan titled “The Integrative Physiology of Insect Chill Tolerance.”  This article reminded me of when my little brother found a beetle frozen in a pool of ice when we were children. After marveling at it for days he decided to melt the ice so he could examine the beetle more closely and use it as part of an ongoing school science project.  We were both quite shocked when the defrosted beetle turned out to be very much alive and not in favor of being used for science projects. (By “shocked” I mean we jumped and screamed when it started moving.)

This article looks at how insects survive ice and cold and the adaptations that make it possible:

The cold tolerance of insects has historically been classified by their ability to tolerate ice formation in the extracellular fluid (freeze-tolerant species) or to avoid freezing by lowering the freezing point of their extracellular fluid [freeze-avoiding species that survive low temperatures above their supercooling point (SCP)]. Studies of freeze tolerance and avoidance have revealed a range of fascinating physiological adaptations that involve accumulation of cryoprotectants, removal of ice nucleators, synthesis of antifreeze proteins, or use of severe dehydration, all of which allow insects to either tolerate or avoid freezing. Nevertheless, the classification of insect species as freeze avoiding and freeze tolerant has received some criticism because it fails to take into account that insect species from warm regions experience loss of homeostasis, cold-induced injury, and death at temperatures above those causing extracellular freezing.

ph79-tongueFinally, I discovered the article by Charlotte M. Mistretta & Archana Kumari, “Tongue and Taste Organ Biology and Function: Homeostasis Maintained by Hedgehog Signaling.”  I’ve given some thought to how taste works but because it seems such a basic part of life I forget how complex it actually is. This article certainly reminded me and also included bonus discussion of the hedgehog pathway, one of my favorite names in all of science. As the authors write in the abstract:

The tongue is an elaborate complex of heterogeneous tissues with taste organs of diverse embryonic origins. The lingual taste organs are papillae, composed of an epithelium that includes specialized taste buds, the basal lamina, and a lamina propria core with matrix molecules, fibroblasts, nerves, and vessels. Because taste organs are dynamic in cell biology and sensory function, homeostasis requires tight regulation in specific compartments or niches.

If you found an article in this volume that interests you, please let me know in the comments!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease, Volume 12

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease, Volume 12.

pm12-jaffeElaine S. Jaffe starts this volume off with her autobiographical article “The Microscope as a Tool for Disease Discovery—A Personal Voyage.” Her research involves the classification of hematological malignancies, and this article reveals her passion for all the things that can be discovered through the microscope as well as some surprising information about pathologists:

Looking at a microscopic slide of diseased tissue provides a wealth of information regarding the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of disease. Pathologists are very visual in their approach, and many pursue art or photography as hobbies. Most are adept at recognizing faces or images as well as discerning the varied microscopic patterns.

Sometimes political events highlight portions of our articles that I might not otherwise have noticed. Finding that our articles resonate with current events isn’t unusual, but it may strike you as surprising for an article in the Annual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease. Perhaps it is less surprising to find such resonances in an autobiography. Dr. Jaffe’s description of her parents and family, who immigrated to the United States from what is now Ukraine, is particularly timely:

My father was born in Steblov, and my mother in Ryzhanovka. My father’s father, who was a cantor, came to the United States in 1914 with his two oldest children, and he expected the rest of the family to follow once he was settled. Cousins who already lived in New York facilitated their arrival… My parents were typical of many immigrant families in their drive to succeed in their new homeland. Our house was always the center for extended family events and gatherings. Political events and intense debate dominated conversations.

Another article of interest is Walsh et al.’s “Humanized Mouse Models of Clinical Disease.” Anyone who has read much medical science realizes that we use animal models for several reasons, as the authors describe:

Animal models are used as surrogates of human biology due to the logistical and ethical restrictions of working with cell and tissue samples from human donors and the biological limitations of culture systems. Small animals such as mice and rats are widely used mammalian model systems due to their small size, ease of maintenance and handling, short reproductive cycle, sharing of genomic and physiological properties with humans, and ability to be readily manipulated genetically.

Of course, these models aren’t perfect, but they are getting closer as humanized mice are altered to more perfectly mimic human systems. I was surprised by how many issues these alterations are letting us research—for instance, to research infectious diseases immunodeficient mice can be grafted with human immune cells so researchers can study the human immune response. I have to note that we are in fact living in the future predicted by the science fiction authors I read as a child.

If you found an article in this volume that particularly interests you, please let me know in the comments!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Entomology, Volume 62

Take a look at the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Entomology, Volume 62.

Calisher’s prose in his autobiographical article, “Following the Yellow Brick Road,” is wonderfully clear and playful with a conversational tone.  I can’t recommend it highly enough—it’s a delightful article and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

I suppose I can be called a virologist, but viruses are only things, as rocks, automobile tires, and books are things. I have little interest in things that simply sit on shelves or reside in freezers. I like to know where they come from, what they do, what their closest relatives are, and, perhaps, how they arose. The study of viruses, particularly arthropod-borne viruses, requires at least a superficial understanding of their epidemiologies, the assorted peculiarities of the viruses themselves, their geographic distributions, the identity and competence of their vectors, their modes of transmission, the external influences that affect them, and so on. Understanding only one aspect of a particular virus or even a group of viruses does not confer knowledge about viruses as a whole. Recognizing that I will not live forever, early on I decided to choose one branch of virology, arbovirology, the study of viruses that are transmitted between vertebrates by hematophagous arthropods. That’s enough specialization for anyone. Perhaps a bit of my personal history will provide more perspective as to how I got from hither to yon.

en62-beesNext, I want to highlight the brilliant article “Beekeeping from Antiquity Through the Middle Ages” by Kritsky, which walks us through the earliest art and history of beekeeping practice.  Notice that it’s not a complete history, but rather just a small slice of the absolutely fascinating history of our relationship with these creatures:

Robbing wild bees of their honey is the oldest documented interaction with bees. Rock paintings in Spain depict honey hunters suspended from rope ladders as they harvest sections of honeycomb. These paintings are thought to date back 7,000 to 8,000 years, but they are not the oldest evidence of use of bee products. Chemical evidence of beeswax has been detected in Anatolian pottery nearly 9,000 years old.

A few of my coworkers can tell you that I’m not fond of spiders appearing indoors.  I don’t mind them out in nature protecting my garden;  I just don’t want them dropping on my keyboard from the ceiling unexpectedly.  The aspect of spider research I find most fascinating is the deep examination of spider silk and how we can produce it synthetically.  I was pleased to find Blamires et al.’s article “Physicochemical Property Variation in Spider Silk: Ecology, Evolution, and Synthetic Production” and greatly anticipate reading it more closely soon.  I was especially surprised at all the different types of silks:

Spiders of the large and diverse superfamily Araneoidea produce seven distinct types of silks, each of which is secreted by different silk glands. Major ampullate (MA) silk is used as a safety line by most spiders and as web frame and radii by orb web spiders. It has the most impressive mechanical properties of all spider silks, as it combines high strength with high extensibility…

I’d love to hear what you found interesting in this volume!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Medicine, Volume 68

View the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Medicine, Volume 68.

Fehr’s article “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” caught my eye with a section heading that sounded like it could be an absurdist art film title: “The Camel Connection.” It actually references a transmission vector for this relatively new respiratory problem. Since reading this article, I have learned a lot more about MERS from two different podcast discussions about possible vaccines and how to keep it from spreading through larger areas. Identifying the camels as vectors has also revealed some other interesting information:

Thus, many other animals found in the Arabian Peninsula, such as goats, horses, chickens, sheep, poultry, and camels, were tested for MERS-CoV seropositivity. Only dromedary camels were found to be positive for anti-MERS-CoV antibody. Dromedary camels are present throughout Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and camels at these sites were shown to be seropositive with rates as high as 80% in some populations (reviewed in 47). Surprisingly, serum samples from as far back as 1982 in Africa and 1992 in Saudi Arabia were positive for MERS-CoV antibodies. This suggests that MERS-CoV has infected camels for an extended period of time and raises the question of why MERS was not detected in patients in Saudi Arabia before 2012.

me68-ebola-treatment-unitsThis volume also includes two articles about Ebola—which is often mentioned as an example of a virus that has spread through a remarkably large area. The first article is an interesting look back at the recent outbreak in West Africa that we now know began in 2013. “Ebola: Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Lo et al. is a fantastic guide to the geography and timeline of the outbreak and identifies the various vectors of transmission. I particularly appreciated the discussion of the geopolitical response to the outbreak:

Following these events, Ebola suddenly seemed potentially dangerous far beyond West Africa, and the epidemic was discussed at the highest political levels internationally. Ebola was debated on the floor of the United Nations (UN), and the Security Council described it as a threat to peace and security. In September 2014, the UN Secretary General established the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) to scale up the response on the ground in the heavily affected countries, coordinating the delivery of logistic, technical, and financial support. This gesture not only conveyed the perceived gravity of the situation but also lack of confidence in WHO’s organizational capacity for emergency response to the crisis. Hitherto, the only disease to have received such high-level attention internationally was AIDS, which had a specific United Nations structure (UNAIDS) established for its response.

The second article about Ebola, “Toward an Effective Ebola Virus Vaccine” by Keshwara et al., looks forward at long-term control of the virus. I always thought of vaccines as a single type of preventative, and found myself particularly interested in reading about the various kinds of vaccines being worked on by various researchers—DNA vaccines, virus-like particles and nanoparticle vaccines, adenovirus-based vaccines, etc. The authors explain why researchers are testing so many vaccines:

From a public health perspective, it is beneficial to pursue diverse vaccine strategies to increase the likelihood of creating a successful vaccine against EBOV. In the context of prevention in endemic regions, it is not always logistically feasible to rely on recurrent vaccination. An ideal vaccine would elicit desired immunity and protection from a single, unadjuvanted shot with no serious adverse effects.

Sometimes an article title catches my ear a full year before I get to see the final version. This was the case with Mamtani & Morrow’s article in this volume, “Why Are There So Many Mastectomies in the United States?” Like so many others, I have a family history with cancer, and my interest is often peaked by articles about new treatments and therapies. In this case, the article looks at a disconnect between the known benefits and risks of this treatment and the number of related surgeries, and though this article doesn’t offer answers it does a great job of providing context for the questions:

Patients at high risk for multiple primary breast cancers, such as those discussed above, are considered medically appropriate candidates for bilateral mastectomy. However, an increasing number of average-risk women are choosing both unilateral mastectomy and CPM. Although high mastectomy rates were initially attributed to surgeons failing to offer BCT to patients, an increasing body of evidence indicates that patient choice is the major determinant of mastectomy rates.

The comment section is open, and I’d love to hear what articles you found interesting!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Rabbits Riding Elephants | Annual Review of Linguistics, Volume 3

Browse the full table of contents for the Annual Review of Linguistics, Volume 3.

li3-rabbits-and-elephantsIn the course of proofing articles for a volume, there is sometimes a figure or a phrase that just jumps off the screen and grabs my attention. That was the case with the rabbits riding elephants photo from Crain’s “Acquisition of Quantifiers.” I spent my lunch break reading about the differences between how adults and children respond to sentences with quantifiers because I am endlessly fascinated by child development and language acquisition. In this case, when asked to look at the four rabbits riding elephants (with one extra elephant without a rider) the subjects were asked “Is every rabbit riding an elephant?” children ages 4-6 sometimes answer no, while adults answer yes. The article goes beyond rabbits and elephants to give a historical overview of the research on quantifiers, and I was surprised by how long ago that research had started (more than 50 years ago!) as well as how complicated the subject proved to be:

Structural principles on anaphoric dependencies were expected to be in place from the earliest stages of acquisition. Linguists subsequently proposed that the difficulties children experience in assigning noncoreference in sentences with referential NPs are not due to their lack of syntactic knowledge, but rather reflect problems in executing certain pragmatic principles that govern the assignment of noncoreference to pronouns.

Sixteen years ago I moved from rural Virginia to urban California. Among the many shocks (where did the weather go?), I was dismayed to find my soft southern accent flattening out. It’s certainly not gone, as you can tell if you happen to encounter me after I have a phone call with my mother or when I’m especially tired, but you might understand my curiosity regarding Dodsworth’s article “Migration and Dialect Contact.” My attention was particularly drawn to the short section about this type of rural to urban migration:

When speakers of rural dialects migrate to a well-established urban area, the features of their rural dialects often do not survive in their children’s speech; in other words, rural features do not survive the leveling process resulting from dialect contact, as described above. By contrast, when a city’s population grows substantially as the result of rapid migration from a variety of places, including other cities, the local dialect itself may be attenuated in favor of either a national standard or a mixed variety….

As you can see, the article is more about groups of people than about individuals—although it doesn’t address my case specifically, I still found it interesting. If you’re interested in dialects specifically there’s an article by Schreier you should investigate: “Dialect Formation in Isolated Communities.” This one is about a different type of population movement that results in the formation of a new community. Here I found it interesting that the new dialect doesn’t necessarily need an isolated group: “isolation is of course not a prerequisite for NDF, and that new dialects (or koinés) may in fact emerge in urban high-contact scenarios as well. These processes have been documented in suburban overspills….”

If you have a recommendation for a good Introduction to Linguistics textbook, or a story of accent shift, please leave me a comment below!

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

The Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 68

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, Suzanne has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

For years now, Suzanne has sent a company-wide email to announce the publication of each new volume. These emails provide insight into the variety, depth, and quality of the articles. Her messages are thoughtful, discerning, playful, and deeply personal. They remind us all of the beauty and wonders of science; all the reasons we do what we do.

We’ve now asked Suzanne to share her volume announcements with our readers. We hope you enjoy this new series of posts!

Anna Rascouët-Paz
Online Media Editor

View the full table of contents for Annual Review of Psychology, Volume 68.

Like many, I grew up thinking that memories were a perfect record of what happened in my life. Discovering that we rewrite our own memories all the time was a very strange moment for me. I’ve come to believe that memory is a slippery and somewhat dangerous thing; we have to trust our own minds, but we also need to recognize that those same minds have a vested interest in protecting themselves. The autobiography of Elizabeth Loftus, “Eavesdropping on Memory,” is a fantastic inside look at studying memory. It is a honest and open look at her thoughts, and it feels intensely personal. It isn’t often that an autobiography moves directly onto my personal top ten list upon first reading—but this one did. It’s impossible to skim, and I found it difficult to pull a single quote that captures the writing style for you.

I soon discovered I wasn’t particularly interested in mathematical psychology, but I never missed the required Friday seminar sessions where faculty and fellow graduate students discussed their research findings, even though my mind was elsewhere. I would often sit in the back and write letters to my relatives. Sometimes I actually got some sewing done (e.g., hemming skirts that needed to be shortened) to the sound of voices discussing the latest developments in mathematical learning theory.

I also enjoyed Metcalfe’s “Learning from Errors” because I find the idea that being willing to experiment and make mistakes leads to better learning and understanding overall is rather uplifting. One aspect of this I particularly found interesting was regarding immediate versus delayed feedback about errors:

The study found that college students performed equally well in the immediate and delayed feedback conditions, whereas children in grades 3 to 5 did better when the feedback was delayed. Interestingly, Kulik & Kulik (1988) noted that whether delayed or immediate feedback produced better results differed between studies conducted in the classroom and those in the laboratory. Lab studies tended to show that delayed feedback was better, whereas classroom studies favored immediate feedback. They concluded, however, that the real difference between these studies was whether the learners paid attention to the feedback. Students in the classroom are highly engaged in knowing the answers to questions right after taking a test.

ps680627-f1Finally, I want to point out that this volume of the Annual Review of Psychology has something for everyone and an article for nearly every situation. Have you ever had the impulse to really analyze your close relationships? Let me suggest Finkel’s article “The Psychology of Close Relationships: Fourteen Core Principles.” You might learn new and exciting things about how relationships are constructed.

Or have you ever felt uncomfortable interacting with a robot? Been caught treating your furby as a living pet? Then you may want to look at Broadbent’s “Interactions With Robots: The Truths We Reveal About Ourselves.” It’s interesting to flip the usual lens and ask what these interactions say about us.

All chemists like flashes, bangs and smells – in conversation with Professor Richard N. Zare.

Nonprofit research publisher Annual Reviews is fortunate to have the ongoing support of many illustrious researchers that serve on our Boards and Committees. Professor Richard N. Zare is the Chairperson of the Annual Reviews Board of Directors and the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Natural Science at Stanford University, USA.

laserRichard was interviewed about his life and work by his former postdoc Dr. Andrew Alexander, who is a reader in Chemical Physics from Edinburgh University in Scotland. Andy prepared a series of short videos from his conversation that vary in length from 2-4 minutes which makes the content highly watchable.

That the pair know each other well is immediately clear through the relaxed and frequently funny tone of the videos which have 13 themes ranging from one entitled “Motorbike Story” through “Mentoring a Research Group” (pictured below, the Zarelab, 2016).


Across the video series, Richard tells self-deprecating stories from his early childhood and young adult years that shape the person he has become today. He also explains his professional path to success as a combination of a series of influential relationships combined with an innate curiosity which he believes is a key component for a productive scientific career.

As Richard says: “Follow your heart – find something you love and throw yourself into it.” Those wishing to dig deeper into his work with Laser-induced fluorescence (LIF) can read his Autobiographical article “My Life with LIF: A Personal Account of Developing Laser-Induced Fluorescence.” If you are interested in seeing some photos of the young Richard and finding out even more about his life then we invite you to read this additional article “The Hydrogen Games and Other Adventures in Chemistry.”

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden Cites AR Article in WSJ Op-Ed

Earlier this week, we were delighted to learn that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden referenced one of our articles in his opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) entitled “How Short-Termism Saps the Economy.”

Vice President Joe Biden. Image credit, public domain, Wikipedia.
Vice-President Joe Biden. Image credit, public domain, Wikipedia.

“Short-termism—the notion that companies forgo long-run investment to boost near-term stock price—is one of the greatest threats to America’s enduring prosperity,” Biden writes.

Further down the piece, the WSJ links to an article in the Annual Review of Financial Economics entitled “CEO Compensation,” written by expert authors Carola Frydman and Dirk Jenter. In it, they describe the evolution of CEO pay and discuss the impact of the oftentimes direct link between share price and compensation.

If you don’t subscribe to the WSJ, you can register to read the article for 24 hours without a credit card.


Our Microbial Partners

Congratulations to Ed Yong on his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, in which he explores the microbes that live and multiply all over humans and other animals, helping us thrive and shaping our behavior.


While our view of microbes is still heavily skewed by the germ theory of disease, which paints them solely as pathogens, recent research has shown that an estimated 50% of the cells we carry around are microbial in nature, and only a fraction of these actually make us ill.

In fact, each animal is an ecosystem and our individual microbiomes play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They help us evolve, break down nutrients from the food we eat so we can better assimilate them, teach our immune system how to defend us from disease, and favor brain development, among other things. Scientists even found that germ-free mice exhibited autism-like behavior, and that probiotic therapies can have positive effects on depression and anxiety.

Yong cited seven of our articles in his book, all of which you can access for free for the next 30 days

The Influence of Milk Oligosaccharides on Microbiota of Infants: Opportunities for FormulasAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Biofilms and Marine Invertebrate Larvae: What Bacteria Produce That Larvae Use to Choose Settlement SitesAnnual Review of Marine Science
The Microbiome in Infectious Disease and InflammationAnnual Review of Immunology
Ecological Physiology of Diet and Digestive SystemsAnnual Review of Physiology
Vaginal Microbiome: Rethinking Health and DiseaseAnnual Review of Microbiology
Human Milk Glycans Protect Infants Against Enteric PathogensAnnual Review of Nutrition
The Human Gut Microbiome: Ecology and Recent Evolutionary ChangeAnnual Review of Microbiology

For more, listen to Yong discussing his book with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross on August 18, 2016.