Is that a sex organ on the cover of Nature?

OK — dipping into the gutter here a bit.  But everyone must check out the cover of Nature this week.  The issue is on the genetics of sex, and I’ll be damned if that phycomyces colony on the cover (the one in the back) does not look like some sort of male sexual organ.  

I do not know where to go with this.  It has to be on purpose right?  Is this what they refer to in the cover caption as a “pseudo-sexual” structure?
And I know I am probably not supposed to say this as an obsessed supporter of Open Access publishing but I dream of the day Nature becomes a fully OA journal.   I still think PLoS Biology is a better journal, but Nature definitely has some good stuff there.

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

5 thoughts on “Is that a sex organ on the cover of Nature?”

  1. < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Luis Corrochano<> passed around a note to the Phycomyces community when the paper was published: “Dear friends and colleagues,Just a short e-mail to inform you that the Nature issue that appeared last Thursday included an article by Alex Idnurm et al. describing the molecular nature of the mating type locus in Phycomyces. It is a great work that benefited from the information provided by the genome sequence, and represents good publicity for everybody working with this fungus. The paper was highlighted in the cover page of the journal that shows a nice picture of a Phycomyces pseudophore (the aberrant sexual structure that appears in mycelia with both mating type genes). “We also wrote < HREF="" REL="nofollow">a little summary about what they found<>.


  2. <>I’ll be damned if that phycomyces colony on the cover (the one in the back) does not look like some sort of male sexual organ.<>To paraphrase the (perhaps apocryphal) quote that Freud was reported to say in response to a follower overeager to infer phallic overtones in depictions of cigars, “Sometimes a pseudophore is just a pseudophore”.


  3. As the editor handling this paper, and advocating for that image to be on the cover, I can honestly say that the sexual allusion never occurred to me. I thought it was cool because it looked like DNA and fit the story. Thanks to Jon, now I will never be able to see it the same way. 🙂And thanks for the compliments! Of course we do now have a CC license for primary genome papers, perhaps allowing for my dream that you will submit papers to us someday….


  4. I had no idea you were the editor … should have figured that one out. As for the CC license … I still prefer the fully open CC licenses, but I will think about it. I guess your CC license is far superior to most non CC licenses used at non OA journals …


  5. Phycomyces fills a small part of the library but is the only totally useful section.The CDCs Mycotic Disease Branch doesn’t even care about the Phycomyces because of its positive aspects. Aaaaaah,…totally usefulMy dudes get on this!Scientists that make advancement re-iterate to stick to science to acheive greater than normal.Maybe Phycomyces will be the new life exstention on the time haz. mat can be contained.Dang it if crack heads fill their pipes with the new non-cancerous, non-poisonous filled for their narcotic intake. Hopefully, you get my point and don’t think I’m a rock head but actually totally useful it out I need ur help!


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