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The Alien Genome

Forget sending humans to Mars, Craig Venter and Jonathan Rothberg want to send sequencers to the red planet, according to Technology Review.

Venter, speaking at the Wired Health Conference in New York, said that his company Synthetic Genomics and the J. Craig Venter Institute plan to "develop a machine capable of sequencing and beaming back DNA data from Mars," Tech Review reports.

Additionally, Ion Torrent founder Jonathan Rothberg tells Tech Review that he wanted to send a PGM machine to Mars as part of a NASA-funded project dubbed SETG, or search for extra-terrestrial genomes.

According to the project's website: "The sensitive technologies used to study the extremes of life on Earth can be applied to the search for life on other planets."

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.