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This Week in Nature: Jul 26, 2013

In Nature this week, researchers from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and the Malaysian Palm Oil Board reported the 1.8-gigabase genome sequence and transcriptome data of the African oil palm, identifying oil biosynthesis genes and associated regulators. In one paper, the team provided insights into evolution of the plant’s genome via comparisons with the genome sequence of the South American oil palm, while in the other they found mutations and a single gene responsible for the three different fruit forms — dura, pisifera, and tenera — of the modern palm, which have different oil yields. "A marker for Shell could be used by seed producers to reduce or eliminate dura contamination, and to distinguish the dura, tenera and pisifera plants in the nursery long before they are field planted," the researchers note.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on these studies here.

Also in Nature, scientists from the Hubrecht Institute report on their investigation of the three-dimensional shape of the pluripotent stem cell genome. Using chromatin conformation capture technologies along with chromatin factor binding data, they demonstrate that inactive chromatin is unusually disorganized in pluripotent stem cell nuclei. Gene promoters were found to have contacts between topological domains in a largely tissue-independent manner, while enhancers had a tissue-specific contact profile. "Notably, genomic clusters of pluripotency factor binding sites find each other very efficiently, in a manner that is strictly pluripotent stem-cell-specific, dependent on the presence of Oct4 and Nanog protein and inducible after artificial recruitment of Nanog to a selected chromosomal site," the researchers write. They conclude that pluripotent stem cells have a unique genome structure that is shaped by pluripotency factors.