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This Week in Nature: Jan 24, 2013

In Nature this week, a team from the European Bioinformatics Institute demonstrate the digital storage potential of DNA, reporting how 739 kilobytes of information, ranging from an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and the text of Shakespeare's sonnets, can be contained in synthetic DNA. It is expected that the DNA-based storage approach could be scaled "far beyond current global information volumes and offers a realistic technology for large-scale, long-term and infrequently accessed digital archiving." With ongoing reductions in DNA synthesis costs, the storage scheme could be cost effective within a decade.

Daily Scan also covers this work.

Also in Nature, a team from Uppsala University reports on the identification of genetic regions influencing the behavioral changes and adaptations that enabled dog domestication. The investigators compared whole-genome sequences of domesticated dogs with wolves and pinpointed 36 regions that contain genes linked to brain development and starch metabolism and appeared to have been under selection pressure. The results "indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs."