Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Imprint


The ability to identify and retain logical relations between stimuli and apply them to novel stimuli is known as relational concept learning. This has been demonstrated in a few animal species after extensive reinforcement training, and it reveals the brain’s ability to deal with abstract properties. Here we describe relational concept learning in newborn ducklings without reinforced training. Newly hatched domesticated mallards that were briefly exposed to a pair of objects that were either the same or different in shape or color later preferred to follow pairs of new objects exhibiting the imprinted relation. Thus, even in a seemingly rigid and very rapid form of learning such as filial imprinting, the brain operates with abstract conceptual reasoning, a faculty often assumed to be reserved to highly intelligent organisms.

Concepts: Imprint, Logic, Object, Abstraction, Learning, Imprinting, Cognition


Debates over the pros and cons of a “publish or perish” philosophy have inflamed academia for at least half a century. Growing concerns, in particular, are expressed for policies that reward “quantity” at the expense of “quality,” because these might prompt scientists to unduly multiply their publications by fractioning (“salami slicing”), duplicating, rushing, simplifying, or even fabricating their results. To assess the reasonableness of these concerns, we analyzed publication patterns of over 40,000 researchers that, between the years 1900 and 2013, have published two or more papers within 15 years, in any of the disciplines covered by the Web of Science. The total number of papers published by researchers during their early career period (first fifteen years) has increased in recent decades, but so has their average number of co-authors. If we take the latter factor into account, by measuring productivity fractionally or by only counting papers published as first author, we observe no increase in productivity throughout the century. Even after the 1980s, adjusted productivity has not increased for most disciplines and countries. These results are robust to methodological choices and are actually conservative with respect to the hypothesis that publication rates are growing. Therefore, the widespread belief that pressures to publish are causing the scientific literature to be flooded with salami-sliced, trivial, incomplete, duplicated, plagiarized and false results is likely to be incorrect or at least exaggerated.

Concepts: Tenure, Imprint, Literature, Science, Publication, Publishing, Scientific method, Academic publishing


One of the major challenges to the widespread adoption of plasmonic and nano-optical devices in real-life applications is the difficulty to mass-fabricate nano-optical antennas in parallel and reproducible fashion, and the capability to precisely place nanoantennas into devices with nanometer-scale precision. In this study, we present a solution to this challenge using the state-of-the-art ultraviolet nanoimprint lithography (UV-NIL) to fabricate functional optical transformers onto the core of an optical fiber in a single step, mimicking the ‘campanile’ near-field probes. Imprinted probes were fabricated using a custom-built imprinter tool with co-axial alignment capability with sub <100 nm position accuracy, followed by a metallization step. Scanning electron micrographs confirm high imprint fidelity and precision with a thin residual layer to facilitate efficient optical coupling between the fiber and the imprinted optical transformer. The imprinted optical transformer probe was used in an actual NSOM measurement performing hyperspectral photoluminescence mapping of standard fluorescent beads. The calibration scans confirmed that imprinted probes enable sub-diffraction limited imaging with a spatial resolution consistent with the gap size. This novel nano-fabrication approach promises a low-cost, high-throughput, and reproducible manufacturing of advanced nano-optical devices.

Concepts: Nanoimprint lithography, Lithography, Ultraviolet, Optical fiber, Optics, Imprint, Micrograph, Scanning electron microscope


Herein we describe the preparation of molecularly imprinted silica nanoparticles by Ostwald ripening in the presence of molecular templates immobilised on glass beads (the solid-phase). To achieve this, a seed material (12 nm diameter silica nanoparticles) was incubated in phosphate buffer in the presence of the solid-phase. Phosphate ions act as a catalyst in the ripening process which is driven by differences in surface energy between particles of different size, leading to the preferential growth of larger particles. Material deposited in the vicinity of template molecules results in the formation of sol-gel molecular imprints after around 2 hours. Selective washing and elution allows the higher affinity nanoparticles to be isolated. Unlike other strategies commonly used to prepare imprinted silica nanoparticles this approach is extremely simple in nature and can be performed under physiological conditions, making it suitable for imprinting whole proteins and other biomacromolecules in their native conformations. We have demonstrated the generic nature of this method by preparing imprinted silica nanoparticles against targets of varying molecular mass (melamine, vancomycin and trypsin). Binding to the imprinted particles was demonstrated in an immunoassay (ELISA) format in buffer and complex media (milk or blood plasma) with sub-nM detection ability.

Concepts: Chemical bond, DNA, Colloid, Nanoparticle, Imprint, Glass, Sol-gel, Molecule


Molecular genetic testing for the 11p15-associated imprinting disorders Silver-Russell and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome (SRS, BWS) is challenging because of the molecular heterogeneity and complexity of the affected imprinted regions. With the growing knowledge on the molecular basis of these disorders and the demand for molecular testing, it turned out that there is an urgent need for a standardized molecular diagnostic testing and reporting strategy. Based on the results from the first external pilot quality assessment schemes organized by the European Molecular Quality Network (EMQN) in 2014 and in context with activities of the European Network of Imprinting Disorders ( towards a consensus in diagnostics and management of SRS and BWS, best practice guidelines have now been developed. Members of institutions working in the field of SRS and BWS diagnostics were invited to comment, and in the light of their feedback amendments were made. The final document was ratified in the course of an EMQN best practice guideline meeting and is in accordance with the general SRS and BWS consensus guidelines, which are in preparation. These guidelines are based on the knowledge acquired from peer-reviewed and published data, as well as observations of the authors in their practice. However, these guidelines can only provide a snapshot of current knowledge at the time of manuscript submission and readers are advised to keep up with the literature.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 11 May 2016; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.45.

Concepts: Scientific method, Imprint, Quality assurance, H19, Human genome, Best practice, Management, Genetics


This month, to celebrate a quarter century of excellence in genetics, we are highlighting selections from the past work we have published. We will then publish a number of forward-looking Perspectives in the coming months to examine and chart the future directions of our field. In parallel, we will also consult researchers for their answers to current questions of interest to the genetics and genomics community for discussion throughout the year.

Concepts: Publishing, Jennifer Warnes, Present, Academic publishing, Imprint, Past, Time, Future


Sample preparation still remains a great challenge in the analytical workflow representing the most time-consuming and laborious step in analytical procedures. Ideally, sample pre-treatment procedures must be more selective, cheap, quick and environmental friendly. Molecular imprinting technology is a powerful tool in the development of highly selective sample preparation methodologies enabling to preconcentrate the analytes from a complex food matrix. Actually, the design and development of molecularly imprinted polymers-based functional materials that merge an enhancement of selectivity with a controllable and switchable mode of action by means of specific stimulus constitutes a hot research topic in the field of food analysis. Thus, combining the stimuli responsive mechanism and imprinting technology a new generation of materials are emerging. The application of these smart materials in sample preparation is in early stage of development, nevertheless new improvements will promote a new driven in the demanding field of food sample preparation. The new trends in the advancement of food sample preparation using these smart materials will be presented in this review and highlighted the most relevant applications in this particular area of knowledge.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Imprint, Challenge, Merge, Imprinting, Metaphysics


Zipper-like thermoresponsive molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) were prepared based on interpolymer complexation via the synergy of dual functional monomers of acrylamide (AAm) and 2-acrylamide-2-methyl propanesulfonic acid (AMPS) for selective recognition and extraction of estradiol (E2) by temperature regulation. The resulting E2-MIPs attained controlled adsorption and release of E2 in response to temperature change, with higher adsorption capacity (8.78mg/g) and stronger selectivity (imprinting factor was 3.18) at 30°C compared with that at 20 and 40°C; the zipper-like interpolymer interaction between poly(AAm) and poly(AMPS) enabled switchable molecular recognition. The adsorption processes obeyed Langmuir isotherm and pseudo-second-order kinetic models. High recognition selectivity of the MIPs toward E2 was achieved over its structural analogues, and good reusability was displayed over 86% recovery after six adsorption-desorption cycles. Accordingly, the E2-MIPs were empolyed as new adsorbents for selective dispersive solid-phase extraction of E2, and offered low limits of detection and quantification of 4.81 and 16.03μg/L, respectively. Recoveries from goat milk samples ranged from 76.2% to 89.7% with the precisions (relative standard deviations, n = 3, %) of 2.8-3.7% at 30°C. The intelligent E2-MIPs combining good adsorption, special recognition and temperature sensitivity proved to be a promising alternative to the selective identification and controlled extraction/removal of E2 in complicated samples by simple temperature-responsive regulation.

Concepts: Imprint, Sensitivity and specificity, Polymer, Imprinting, Standard deviation, DNA, Adsorption


A hierarchical imprinting strategy was used to create protein imprints in a silicate film with a high binding capacity as well as selectivity toward the imprint protein and little specificity towards other proteins. In the first part of this work, rod-shaped bacteria were used as templates to create imprints in silica films of various thicknesses to open up the silica framework and increase the surface area exposed to solution. In the second part, the protein (e.g., cytochrome c (CYC) or green fluorescent protein (GFP)) was covalently attached to the surface of Bacillus subtilis and this protein-bacteria complex served as the imprint moiety. Atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy were used to image the micron-size rod-shaped bacteria imprints formed on the silica surface. Fluorescence microscopy, which was used to follow the fabrication process with GFP as the representative protein, clearly demonstrated protein imprinting, protein removal and protein rebinding as well as protein specificity. Visible absorption spectroscopy using CYC as the imprint protein demonstrated relatively fast uptake kinetics and also good specificity against other proteins including bovine serum albumin (BSA), horseradish peroxidase (HRP), glucose oxidase (GOD), and lysozyme (LYZ). Collectively this work demonstrates a new surface bio-imprinting approach that generates recognition sites for proteins and provides a viable means to increase the binding capacity of such imprinted thin films.

Concepts: Bacteria, Serum albumin, Imprint, Green fluorescent protein, Enzyme, Electron, Bacillus, Protein


Pseudouridine (Ψ) is an important urinary cancer biomarker, especially in human colorectal cancer (CRC). Disclosed herein is the first Ψ molecularly imprinted polymer (Ψ-MIP) material obtained from tailor-engineered functional monomers. The resulting MIP imprint exhibits a remarkable imprinting factor greater than 70. It is successfully used for the selective recognition of Ψ in spiked human urine. This selective functionalized material opens the route to the development of inexpensive disposable chemosensors for noninvasive CRC diagnosis and prognosis.

Concepts: Colorectal cancer, Urine, Cancer, Imprint