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DIY or Not?


There are some things people rely on others to do for them. When I lived in California and having a car was de rigueur, I knew the basics of automobile upkeep, but still chose to take my trusty car to the mechanic for anything much more complicated than changing the windshield wiper fluid. I didn't have the tools, expertise, or a garage to do the work that it needed. The mechanic had all of that, so I outsourced whatever repairs I had to the shop.

As this month's cover story shows, some researchers in academia and industry do something similar with their sequencing projects, and for similar reasons: They send them out to service providers that have the necessary expensive tools and expertise. The article looks into who is offering sequencing services, who is using them, and more.

Elsewhere in this month's issue, Christie Rizk reports on ways in which genomics researchers are adapting their approaches to study the effects of climate change on various organisms. The University of California, Davis' Andrew Whitehead tells her that combining 'omics techniques with ecology or environmental science approaches allows researchers to better tie genotype and phenotype together.

Also, Tracy Vence examines how researchers are studying the stochastic nature of gene expression to come to a better understanding of how and why genes behave as they do. While it is not yet fully understood, Tracy says researchers are getting a glimmer of the importance of copy-number variation and chromatin organization.

And in this month's Brute Force column, Matthew Dublin writes that there are other fields, like government and e-commerce, that may teach bioinformaticists a lesson or two on how to cope with analyzing vast volumes of data. If Google and the US National Security Agency can do it, why not them?

Finally, a feature story last month on point-of-care diagnostics misstated the given name of Cornell University's Dan Luo. Genome Technology regrets the error.

The Scan

Study Finds Sorghum Genetic Loci Influencing Composition, Function of Human Gut Microbes

Focusing on microbes found in the human gut microbiome, researchers in Nature Communications identified 10 sorghum loci that appear to influence the microbial taxa or microbial metabolite features.

Treatment Costs May Not Coincide With R&D Investment, Study Suggests

Researchers in JAMA Network Open did not find an association between ultimate treatment costs and investments in a drug when they analyzed available data on 60 approved drugs.

Sleep-Related Variants Show Low Penetrance in Large Population Analysis

A limited number of variants had documented sleep effects in an investigation in PLOS Genetics of 10 genes with reported sleep ties in nearly 192,000 participants in four population studies.

Researchers Develop Polygenic Risk Scores for Dozens of Disease-Related Exposures

With genetic data from two large population cohorts and summary statistics from prior genome-wide association studies, researchers came up with 27 exposure polygenic risk scores in the American Journal of Human Genetics.