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Evolution's Side Effects

Disease is bad, right? But what if some diseases are a direct byproduct of human adaptation? Discover's Gene Expression blog says we should consider disease as a byproduct of adaptation to our environment. Take sickle-cell anemia, for example. There is no doubt that this is a condition that can kill the carrier. But it is also a by-product of our adaptation to endemic malaria, the blog says. "Sickle-cell disease one of the classical illustrations of heterozygote advantage, whereby those who carry one copy of the mutation on the gene have increased fitness vis-a-vis those who carry two normal copies of the gene," Gene Expression says. "The increase in frequency of the mutant gene though is balanced by the fact that mutant homozygotes have decreased fitness." And though in many cases, the side effects of genetic changes are benign, there are cases where the byproduct is a disease.

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.