Because of genotyping errors, researchers led by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign's Steven Huber have retracted two papers — and lost a year's worth of work, Retraction Watch reports.
According to the retraction notice accompanying the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper, first published in 2010, the issue could be traced to two transgenic plants that were erroneously genotyped, and, thus, the in-plant results weren't valid. Similarly, the notice appearing in Frontiers in Plant Science alongside a now-retracted paper there added that the parent plants of those described in that study were incorrectly genotyped.
In both notices — which Retraction Watch calls "refreshingly transparent and detailed" — two authors took responsibility for the errors: first author Man-Ho Oh, now at Chanung National University in Korea, who generated the transgenic plants, and Huber for his lack of oversight.
In the PNAS notice, the authors add that Huber's lab spent a year studying these plants before the error was uncovered. A new postdoc, Huber adds at Retraction Watch, spend much of his first year in the lab examining gene expression in the transgenic plants to understand its growth phenotype with plans to submit a grant proposal. That was then not possible when the error was discovered.
Huber adds that the issue "came out of left field for us" and the lab is now implementing new rules — such as requiring better data archiving and providing sequencing and genotyping data for new transgenic plants — to prevent such a problem from cropping up again.
The researchers add that they are now endeavoring to generate the proper transgenic plants to re-perform these experiments.