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Culture as a Selective Force

Human culture can be force for evolution, says this New York Times article. The prime example cited is lactose tolerance in adults of northern European and some of African descent — being able to consume that added source of nutrition, it is thought, allowed people with that ability to better survive and pass that gene on. Now, the article says, researchers are scanning through the human genome to find regions under selective pressure. One finding from that is that the genomes of people living in agrarian societies contain extra copies of amylase — perhaps because they eat more starch. Another gene under selection is EDAR, which is involved in controlling hair growth and a variant of which is more common in East Asian and Native American populations. The reason why EDAR is under selection is not yet known but theories include heat retention from thicker hair, sexual selection, or as a tag-along feature, as EDAR is also involved in the immune system.

The Scan

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.