As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on some of our most popular PLOS Research News articles since the site’s inception in July of this year. Here are our 10 most read research stories featuring PLOS content that published this year, ranging from genetics to parasites to bat feces. We’re starting with 10, and counting down to the most popular article of 2016.
John Shaffer and colleagues published a genome-wide association study in PLOS Genetics featuring 3,118 healthy individuals of European ancestry. The researchers identified facial characteristics including facial width, distance between eyes, and nose size that were associated with distinctive single base pair variations in their genome.
The authors of a PLOS Pathogens study infected mice with a bacterium known as group B streptococcus (GBS) and found that harmful toxins were sent up their reproductive tracts in tiny sacs called membrane-bound vesicles (MVs), potentially leading to preterm births.
Guy Caljon of the University of Antwerp discussed his PLOS Pathogens research investigating how tsetse flies can potentially spread the parasite that causes sleeping sickness in a mouse model. Caljon and his colleagues discovered a subpopulation of infectious parasites that remained and multiplied in the inner layer of skin near the fly bite, which might reinfect tsetse flies to help transmit the infection to more hosts.
In a PLOS ONE study, Glendon Parker, a biochemist from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and his team investigated whether proteins found in human hair could offer an alternative to traditional DNA profiling for identifying an individual. Parker and his team identified over 185 hair protein markers, which they estimate would be sufficient to provide a unique pattern that could distinguish one person among a population of 1 million.
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Portfolio Analysis examined a new metric to quantify the influence of a scientific research article called the Relative Citation Ratio (RCR) and they published their results in PLOS Biology. They found that RCR values of papers authored by NIH awardees correlate well with the opinions of other experts in biomedical research and suggest that this approach could be applied to articles in all areas of science.
Jan Poulsen and her team from the Australian Museum in Sydney investigated the bioluminescence and unique pigment patterns of two new deep-sea fish species in a recent PLOS ONE study. The researchers found that these fish may shine light from their bellies to communicate in the depths of the sea, where sunlight barely reaches.
Ancient artifacts found at an archeological site in Argentina suggest that humans occupied South America earlier than previously thought, according to a study published in PLOS ONE by Gustavo Politis and colleagues from CONICET and the Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires.
In an attempt to identify and study elusive, endangered bat species, researchers from Northern Arizona University developed “Species from Feces,” a new DNA barcoding tool that can identify bat species from their fecal pellets. They published the results of this research in PLOS ONE.
To identify where coral reef-dependent people are most likely to be affected by rising CO2 levels by 2050, Linwood Pendleton and his colleagues scored and mapped the two indicators of CO2-driven coral reef stress – ocean acidification and rising sea surface temperatures – along with two indicators of human dependence on coral reefs. Their research, published recently in PLOS ONE, identifies countries most at risk, such as Mexico, Indonesia, and parts of Australia.
In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, researchers found dramatic declines in the populations of sunflower sea stars, Pycnopodia helianthoides, along with several other sea star species, living in the Salish Sea. Joe Gaydos, wildlife veterinarian and chief scientist with the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine’s SeaDoc Society, says the study could help provide evidence for listing sunflower sea stars as a Federal Species of Concern.
Image Credits: Alexandre Delbos, Flickr; Global Panorama, Flickr; Caljon et al. (2016); Julie Russell/LLNL; Ian Hutchins and George Santangelo; Poulsen et al. (2016); Politis et al (2016); Faith Walker; Expl0601 Coral (Montastrea cavernosa) by NOAA via Flickr; Joseph Gaydos