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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

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.