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This Week in Nature: Dec 21, 2012

In Nature this week, University of California, Berkeley, researchers publish the draft genomes of two annelids — a freshwater leech and a marine polychaete — and one mollusk — the owl limpet — providing new insights into the evolution of bilateral symmetry. By comparing these genomes with those of other animals, the team identified some of the genetic changes that gave rise to bilaterians.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, Chinese scientists report on their whole-genome sequencing of 34 giant pandas and combined the findings with data from the previously deep-sequenced panda genome to reconstruct a continuous demographic history of pandas from their origin to the present day. They identified two population expansions, two bottlenecks, and two divergences, and conclude that human activities and not global climate changes have driven recent population divergence and decline.

GenomeWeb Daily News also covers this paper here.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.