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Going to the Extreme

In work published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, scientists found extremophiles -- photoautotrophic microbial communities -- in the Atacama desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth and also the place that most resembles the conditions on Mars. If life could be found to exist here, the authors suppose, it could be found on Mars, too. Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder's Alpine Microbial Observatory combined biogeochemical and molecular phylogenetics to look at the genetic diversity of the microbial community at the top of the 19,850-foot-high Socompa volcano. Near the areas around the volcanic fumaroles, they found "a thriving, complex microbial community that appears to be supported by gases emanating from volcanic vents around the rim," says a post at Ars Technica.

The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.