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

Concept: Software architecture


Flux balance analysis (FBA) is a widely used computational method for characterizing and engineering intrinsic cellular metabolism. The increasing number of its successful applications and growing popularity are possibly attributable to the availability of specific software tools for FBA. Each tool has its unique features and limitations with respect to operational environment, user-interface and supported analysis algorithms. Presented herein is an in-depth evaluation of currently available FBA applications, focusing mainly on usability, functionality, graphical representation and inter-operability. Overall, most of the applications are able to perform basic features of model creation and FBA simulation. COBRA toolbox, OptFlux and FASIMU are versatile to support advanced in silico algorithms to identify environmental and genetic targets for strain design. SurreyFBA, WEbcoli, Acorn, FAME, GEMSiRV and MetaFluxNet are the distinct tools which provide the user friendly interfaces in model handling. In terms of software architecture, FBA-SimVis and OptFlux have the flexible environments as they enable the plug-in/add-on feature to aid prospective functional extensions. Notably, an increasing trend towards the implementation of more tailored e-services such as central model repository and assistance to collaborative efforts was observed among the web-based applications with the help of advanced web-technologies. Furthermore, most recent applications such as the Model SEED, FAME, MetaFlux and MicrobesFlux have even included several routines to facilitate the reconstruction of genome-scale metabolic models. Finally, a brief discussion on the future directions of FBA applications was made for the benefit of potential tool developers.

Concepts: Metabolism, Computer program, Software engineering, Computer software, Application software, Usability, Software architecture, Software system


We present The Virtual Brain (TVB), a neuroinformatics platform for full brain network simulations using biologically realistic connectivity. This simulation environment enables the model-based inference of neurophysiological mechanisms across different brain scales that underlie the generation of macroscopic neuroimaging signals including functional MRI (fMRI), EEG and MEG. Researchers from different backgrounds can benefit from an integrative software platform including a supporting framework for data management (generation, organization, storage, integration and sharing) and a simulation core written in Python. TVB allows the reproduction and evaluation of personalized configurations of the brain by using individual subject data. This personalization facilitates an exploration of the consequences of pathological changes in the system, permitting to investigate potential ways to counteract such unfavorable processes. The architecture of TVB supports interaction with MATLAB packages, for example, the well known Brain Connectivity Toolbox. TVB can be used in a client-server configuration, such that it can be remotely accessed through the Internet thanks to its web-based HTML5, JS, and WebGL graphical user interface. TVB is also accessible as a standalone cross-platform Python library and application, and users can interact with the scientific core through the scripting interface IDLE, enabling easy modeling, development and debugging of the scientific kernel. This second interface makes TVB extensible by combining it with other libraries and modules developed by the Python scientific community. In this article, we describe the theoretical background and foundations that led to the development of TVB, the architecture and features of its major software components as well as potential neuroscience applications.

Concepts: Neuroimaging, Neuroscience, Magnetic resonance imaging, Electroencephalography, Java, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Graphical user interface, Software architecture


The number of image analysis tools supporting the extraction of architectural features of root systems has increased over the last years. These tools offer a handy set of complementary facilities, yet it is widely accepted that none of these software tool is able to extract in an efficient way growing array of static and dynamic features for different types of images and species. . We describe the Root System Markup Language (RSML) that has been designed to overcome two major challenges: (i) to enable portability of root architecture data between different software tools in an easy and interoperable manner allowing seamless collaborative work, and (ii) to provide a standard format upon which to base central repositories which will soon arise following the expanding worldwide root phenotyping effort. RSML follows the XML standard to store 2D or 3D image metadata, plant and root properties and geometries, continuous functions along individual root paths and a suite of annotations at the image, plant or root scales, at one or several time points. Plant ontologies are used to describe botanical entities that are relevant at the scale of root system architecture. An xml-schema describes the features and constraints of RSML and open-source packages have been developed in several languages (R, Excel, Java, Python, C#) to enable researchers to integrate RSML files into popular research workflow.

Concepts: Mathematics, Computer program, Annotation, Root, Software architecture, XML, Markup language, Weyl group


The use of quantitative metrics to gauge the impact of scholarly publications, authors, and disciplines is predicated on the availability of reliable usage and annotation data. Citation and download counts are widely available from digital libraries. However, current annotation systems rely on proprietary labels, refer to journals but not articles or authors, and are manually curated. To address these limitations, we propose a social framework based on crowdsourced annotations of scholars, designed to keep up with the rapidly evolving disciplinary and interdisciplinary landscape. We describe a system called Scholarometer, which provides a service to scholars by computing citation-based impact measures. This creates an incentive for users to provide disciplinary annotations of authors, which in turn can be used to compute disciplinary metrics. We first present the system architecture and several heuristics to deal with noisy bibliographic and annotation data. We report on data sharing and interactive visualization services enabled by Scholarometer. Usage statistics, illustrating the data collected and shared through the framework, suggest that the proposed crowdsourcing approach can be successful. Secondly, we illustrate how the disciplinary bibliometric indicators elicited by Scholarometer allow us to implement for the first time a universal impact measure proposed in the literature. Our evaluation suggests that this metric provides an effective means for comparing scholarly impact across disciplinary boundaries.

Concepts: Scientific method, Computer, Graphic design, Annotated bibliography, Reference, Citation, Software architecture, Footnote


Lateral roots (LRs), which originate from the growing root, and adventitious roots (ARs), which are formed from non-root organs, are main contributors to the post-embryonic root system in Arabidopsis However, our knowledge of how the root system is plastically formed in response to diverse inductive cues is limited. Here we show that WOX11 contributes to root system plasticity. When seedlings are grown vertically on medium, WOX11 is not expressed in LR founder cells. During AR initiation, WOX11 is expressed in AR founder cells and activates LBD16LBD16 also functions in LR formation and is activated in that context by ARF7/19 and not by WOX11 This indicates that divergent initial processes that lead to ARs and LRs may converge on the similar mechanism for primordium development. Furthermore, we demonstrated that when plants are grown in soil or upon wounding on medium, the primary root is able to produce both WOX11-mediated and non-WOX11-mediated roots. The discovery of WOX11-mediated root-derived roots reveals a previously uncharacterized pathway that confers plasticity during the generation of root system architecture in response to different inductive cues.

Concepts: Root, Software architecture


In sorghum, the growth angle of nodal roots is a major component of root system architecture. It strongly influences the spatial distribution of roots of mature plants in the soil profile, which can impact drought adaptation. However, selection for nodal root angle in sorghum breeding programs has been restricted by the absence of a suitable high throughput phenotyping platform. The aim of this study was to develop a phenotyping platform for the rapid, non-destructive and digital measurement of nodal root angle of sorghum at the seedling stage.

Concepts: Natural selection, Soil, Space, Root, High-throughput screening, Software architecture


Overcoming Addictions (OA) is an abstinence-oriented, cognitive behavioral, Web application based on the program of SMART Recovery. SMART Recovery is an organization that has adapted empirically supported treatment strategies for use in a mutual help framework with in-person meetings, online meetings, a forum, and other resources.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, PHP, Web 2.0, Internet, Web application, Software architecture, Web application framework


Root architecture development determines the sites in soil where roots provide input of carbon and take up water and solutes. However, root architecture is difficult to determine experimentally when grown in opaque soil. Thus, root architecture models have been widely used and been further developed into functional-structural models that simulate the fate of water and solutes in the soil-root system. The root architecture model CRootBox presented here is a flexible framework to model root architecture and its interactions with static and dynamic soil environments.

Concepts: Hydrogen, Engineering, Systems theory, Cybernetics, Model, Root, Software architecture


Root system architecture (RSA) impacts plant fitness and crop yield by facilitating efficient nutrient and water uptake from the soil. A better understanding of the effects of soil on RSA could improve crop productivity by matching roots to their soil environment. We used X-ray computed tomography to perform a detailed 3-D quantification of changes in rice RSA in response to the physical properties of a granular substrate. We characterized the RSA of eight rice cultivars in five different growth substrates and determined that RSA is the result of interactions between genotype and growth environment. We identified cultivar-specific changes in RSA in response to changing growth substrate texture. Azucena exhibited low RSA plasticity in all growth substrates, whereas Bala root depth was a function of soil hardness. Our imaging techniques provide a framework to study RSA in different growth environments, the results of which can be used to improve root traits with agronomic potential.

Concepts: Agriculture, Plant, Medical imaging, Radiography, Tomographic reconstruction, Soil, Root, Software architecture


The HTSstation analysis portal is a suite of simple web forms coupled to modular analysis pipelines for various applications of High-Throughput Sequencing including ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, 4C-seq and re-sequencing. HTSstation offers biologists the possibility to rapidly investigate their HTS data using an intuitive web application with heuristically pre-defined parameters. A number of open-source software components have been implemented and can be used to build, configure and run HTS analysis pipelines reactively. Besides, our programming framework empowers developers with the possibility to design their own workflows and integrate additional third-party software. The HTSstation web application is accessible at

Concepts: Computer program, Web application, System software, Computer software, Application software, Software architecture, Emulator, Web application framework