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Are You Afraid of the Dark?

The three established branches of life — bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotes — may soon be joined by a fourth, says New Scientist's Colin Barras. In a new study published in PLoS One, researchers at the University of California, Davis, Genome Center have identified gene sequences hidden in samples of seawater — these sequences are "so unusual they seem to have come from organisms that are only distantly related to cellular life as we know it," Barras says. "So distantly related, in fact, that they may belong to an organism that sits in an entirely new domain." The UC Davis researchers teamed up with Craig Venter and his team to sequence the samples, and found some sequences belonging to two "superfamilies" of genes, recA and rpoB, that are "unlike any seen before," Barras adds. Now the team is trying to find out where these genes are from, and conjecture that they could belong to an entirely new kind of life.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.