BioEssays looks a bit different… Three things have changed: (i) We have divided the journal into three sections: a ‘front third’ called ‘Insights and perspectives’ for thought-provoking short articles ranging from science policy to ideas and speculations on open questions in biology; a middle third devoted to review-style articles; and finally, independent rubrics such as meeting reports and book reviews. (ii) We have renovated the interior design with colour-coded sections and rubrics, and a new layout. (iii) We have gracefully ‘retired’ a few older rubrics, and introduced some new ones. In terms of what BioEssays stands for, point (iii) is probably the most important, and we thank the Editorial Board, and the contributors to an online survey, for their input into that process.

I will start with Ex laboratorio, a broad rubric for discussion of things that happen outside the laboratory, but that have an influence on research – experienced readers will notice that we have subsumed some older rubrics into this one. Examples are science funding and policy, communication of science, science education and even aspects of scientific practice and philosophy of science. In this issue, Bischofberger and Guarnera present a good example: an all too rarely heard account of the problems that many young scientists have in making a career in today's funding and evaluation climate. That is followed by an ‘old chestnut’, but rarely so eloquently and persuasively put: the call for better education of biology students in the principles of evolutionary theory, by Eugenie Scott.

Next in sequence is Hypotheses, a rubric for which BioEssays is famed. Though coincidentally absent in this issue, we continue to champion hypotheses, and encourage well-founded examples to be submitted. But there was a rubric missing: Ideas and Speculations fills the gap, by accommodating ideas on open questions in biology, developed in the context of identifying unknowns, delineating new research avenues, and speculating on, or predicting, developments and answers. Readers can, for example look forward to a visionary article in this rubric from John Mattick in the July issue (Epub in advance).

Think again, another new rubric, was created to present critical analyses of published works, calls to reinterpret data, discussions of long-forgotten important research, historical perspectives of relevance to future research etc. In the July issue, readers will see two articles addressing, with historical perspectives, the fascinating question of what lies between genotype and phenotype.

Next are brief discussions of recently published primary research, a central feature of BioEssays, and now renamed Recently in press: in this issue, Reiner Veitia describes emerging evidence that overturns the concept that, in the absence of male-determining factors, the default pathway is for development to produce a female; Jens Rister and Claude Desplan present recent insights into cis-regulatory modules and the methodology used to research them; Wenbin Deng discusses a new way of reprogramming cells to pluripotency; and Beth Shapiro and Michael Hofreiter write on the most recent advances in sequencing of ancient human genomes.

Thumbnail image of

Review articles are now called Review essays, and in this issue, Millau et al. encourage us to think critically about the limitations of established cell lines for analysing p53 function; Jui-Yu Chou and Jun-Yi Leu present the case for cytonuclear incompatability as an important force in speciation; and Calvo et al. explore emerging possibilities of more specific targeting of the Ras-ERK pathway for tumour inhibition.

Rounding off the reviews section is one of BioEssays' most successful old rubrics, Problems & Paradigms. In this issue, Reed et al. explain why it is physiologically important that many enzymes are (counterintuitively) inhibited by their own substrates; Rundell and Leander cover convergent evolution of tiny animals that live between grains of sand; and Robert Scotland tackles the thorny question of what ‘deep homology’ means, in light new systematic approaches.

The last new rubric to present is Methods, Models & Techniques, which subsumes and extends the old rubrics What's new and My favourite animal/cell/molecule, etc. Readers can look forward to two fine articles in that rubric in June, one critically analysing high throughput sequencing technologies; the other emphasising the importance of the boundary layers of cells for probing physiological function and dysfunction.

We hope you also enjoy the new design, for which my thanks go to Gunther Schulz, our graphic designer, and Melanie Brunner-Straub, our Production Manager. Prospective authors can find out more about the new rubric schema at: