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Mixed-Identity Amoeba Genome Sequenced

Researchers report in Cell this week the genome sequence of Naegleria gruberi, an amoeba capable of shifting among three distinct morphological identities. Naegleria usually subsists as a common solid amoeba; under stress it generates two flagella for motility; further still, it can persist as a “hard cyst” in soil until moisture permits its return to its amoeba form. “In a sense, analyzing the Naegleria genome shows us what it would be like to be on this planet more than a billion years ago, and what kind of organisms were around then and what they might have looked like,” Simon Prochnik, paper co-author, said in a statement. The team reports that the amoeba contains 15,727 genes which code for proteins, and suggests that their study will enhance future investigations of the transition from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. “The Naegleria genome facilitates substantially broader phylogenomic comparisons of free-living eukaryotes than previously possible,” the authors write.

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.