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This Week in Nature: Jun 14, 2012

An international team led by investigators at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology reports on its sequencing and assembly of the bonobo genome, which it compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes to study their evolutionary relationships. Among other things, the team writes, the bonobo genome offers clues as to "the genetic basis of phenotypes that humans share with one of the two apes to the exclusion of the other." Daily Scan's sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study.

Members of the US National Institutes of Health-funded Human Microbiome Project Consortium present "a framework for human microbiome research" as well as an analysis of the "structure, function, and diversity of the healthy human microbiome" in Nature this week. (Members of the consortium also report on several aspects of their research in PLoS journals and Genome Biology this week.) Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the Human Microbiome Project studies.

Researchers at the Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment in Torino, Italy, and their colleagues elsewhere show this week in Naturethat molecular alterations of KRAS — most often, point mutations — "are causally associated with the onset of acquired resistance to anti-EGFR treatment in colorectal cancers." Further, the team goes on to show that the emergence of KRAS mutant clones can be detected non-invasively months before radiographic progression. In a separate, but related paper, a team led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center reports on its detection of such KRAS mutations in colorectal cancer patients whose tumors were initially wild type. "The appearance of these mutations was very consistent, generally occurring between five and six months following treatment," the authors write. "Mathematical modeling indicated that the mutations were present in expanded subclones before the initiation of panitumumab [anti-EGFR therapeutic] treatment."

Elsewhere in the journal, an international team led by investigators at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute presents a sequencing-based analysis of Plasmodium falciparum diversity in natural infections. "Analysis of 86,158 exonic single nucleotide polymorphisms that passed genotyping quality control in 227 samples from Africa, Asia, and Oceania provides genome-wide estimates of allele frequency distribution, population structure and linkage disequilibrium," the team reports. It also says it has launched an open-access Web application for the exploration of regional differences in allele frequency and of highly differentiated loci in the P. falciparum genome.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.