Italian researcher facing criminal charges notches seventh retraction

Alfredo Fusco, a researcher in Italy under criminal investigation, now has a seventh retraction for manipulated images. Here’s the notice for “Retraction: Identification of new high mobility group A1 associated proteins,” to which not all of the authors agreed: The above article from Proteomics, published online on 19 September 2007 in Wiley Online Library ( and […]

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Proteomics paper retracted for plagiarized figure of mysterious origin

proteomicsThe journal Proteomics has retracted a paper for a plagiarized figure — but how the authors came to possess the image in the first place remains a mystery.

Here’s the notice:

The following article from Proteomics, “A proteomic approach for investigation of photosynthetic apparatus in plants” by C. Ciambella, P. Roepstorff, E.M. Aro and L. Zolla, published online on 28 January 2005 in the Wiley Online Library (, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the Editor-in-Chief and Wiley-VCH GmbH & Co. KGaA. The retraction has been agreed due to the similarity of Figure 4 in this article and an image from an article by B. Granvogl and L.A. Eichacker which was originally submitted to Proteomics on November 1st, 2002 and which was finally published online on 6 June 2006 in the Wiley Online Library ( as Figure 1 in Proteomics, “Mapping the proteome of thylakoid membranes by de novo sequencing of intermembrane peptide domains” by B. Granvogl, V. Reisinger and L.A. Eichacker.

The paper has been cited 43 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction follows an extensive investigation by LabTimes — where, in the interests of full disclosure, we have a regular column — involving analyses from two experts unaffiliated with either group of researchers. (One of those experts, Thierry Rabilloud, is an associate editor of Proteomics.) Some of the relevant parties had either retired, and researchers had lost track of the first author on the 2005 paper, Corrado Ciambella.

It’s a complicated story, as you would expect given the timeline described in the retraction. After all, how would researchers plagiarize a figure that had been submitted, but not yet published? The sequence suggests the possibility that the 2005 paper’s authors had access to the paper eventually published in 2006 — after being rejected, it turns out — but there’s no proof of that.

Read the whole piece here, including careful forensic analysis, to see why the paper was finally retracted.