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The Ötzi of Bacteria

The melting of the polar glaciers is not only wreaking havoc on sea levels and ocean currents — it's also releasing "ancient microbes" and other life forms that have been trapped in the ice for hundreds of thousands of years, says Scientific American's Cheryl Katz. "Once thought to be too harsh and inhospitable to support any living thing, the ice sheets are now known to be a gigantic reservoir of microbial life," Katz says. "Altogether, the biomass of microbial cells in and beneath the ice sheet may amount to more than 1,000 times that of all the humans on Earth." Montana State University researcher John Priscu tells Katz that burial in the ice is an evolutionary strategy for many microorganisms, a way of "recycling genomes." Priscu has found living bacteria in some of the ice cores harvested from Antarctica and has grown the bacteria in his lab. University of Wisconsin, Madison, evolutionary biologist Jonathan Klassen says the ice is good for preserving genes that were thought to have disappeared from the planet long ago. "Things that went extinct have the possibility of coming back," Klassen tells Katz.

The Scan

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.

Estonian Biobank Team Digs into Results Return Strategies, Experiences

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics outline a procedure developed for individual return of results for the population biobank, along with participant experiences conveyed in survey data.

Rare Recessive Disease Insights Found in Individual Genomes

Researchers predict in Genome Medicine cross-population deletions and autosomal recessive disease impacts by analyzing recurrent nonallelic homologous recombination-related deletions.

Genetic Tests Lead to Potential Prognostic Variants in Dutch Children With Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Researchers in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine found that the presence of pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants was linked to increased risk of death and poorer outcomes in children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy.