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This Week in Nature: Aug 11, 2011

In this week's Nature, members of the International Multiple Sclerosis Genetics Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2 report the results of its collaborative GWAS involving 9,772 cases of multiple sclerosis in individuals of European descent. "We have replicated almost all of the previously suggested associations and identified at least a further 29 novel susceptibility loci," the authors write, adding that they've also "refined the identity of the HLA-DRB1 risk alleles and confirmed that variation in the HLA-A gene underlies the independent protective effect attributable to the class I region."

In a paper published online in advance in Nature this week, an international team led by investigators at the University of Oslo presents a genome sequence for Atlantic cod, which it says shows "evidence for complex thermal adaptations in its hemoglobin gene cluster and an unusual immune architecture compared to other sequenced vertebrates." Using 454 sequencing of shotgun and paired-end libraries, the team decoded the cod genome and identified 22,154 genes. In its paper, the Oslo-led team also discusses conserved features among jawed vertebrates.

In brief communications appearing in online in Nature this week, two teams challenge Jianni Liu et al.'s phylogenetic analysis regarding a new fossil for an 'armored' lobopodian the researchers identified, Diania cactiformis gen. et sp. nov. A pair of researchers at the University of Bath says that "without taking issue with the interpretation of Diania offered by Liu et al., or of the manner in which they coded their characters, we were nonetheless unable to derive their cladogram optimally from the data published." In addition, Imperial College London's David Legg et al. say that while the Liu-led study's inference that arthropodization may have preceded arthrodization is reasonable, "it rests on a phylogenetic placement that our analysis of the published data set does not reproduce." In their reply to these communications, Liu et al. say that "scoring a robust data matrix including both lobopodians and arthropods [is] challenging," and question whether, perhaps, "the basal polytomies recovered here are simply due to clustering among taxa with few unequivocal apomorphies and/or much missing data."

And in a recent Nature Genetics advance online publication, an international team led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reports a draft genome for the extremophile crucifer Thellungiella parvula, which is endemic to saline and resource-poor habitats. "We obtained the de novo assembled genome in 1,496 gap-free contigs, closely approximating the estimated genome size of 140 Mb," the authors write, adding that their study demonstrates the ability "to a near-complete chromosome level for a eukaryotic species lacking prior genetic information."

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.