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This Week in Nature: Jan 16, 2014

In this week's Nature, bioethicist Nita Farahany and geneticist Robert Green argue that there is no evidence that consumer genetic testing causes distress, making the US Food and Drug Administration's recent order that direct-to-consumer testing firm 23andMe stop marketing its personal genomics services unwarranted. According to the two, several recent surveys of people undergoing consumer genomics testing shows that the process has caused no real harm and may actually offer benefit. As such, they say that it is inappropriate for FDA to regulate genomic testing as it does medical devices. It is important that companies like 23andMe make information about the accuracy of their tests available, they added, but regulatory constraints on such services could end up doing more harm than good.

Meanwhile, in Nature Communications, a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, BGI-Shenzen, and elsewhere reports on the draft genome sequence of the migratory locust, highlighting genes linked to the insect's ability to travel long distances — namely ones tied to energy metabolism and antioxidative responses. The paper also offers clues on ways to combat this agricultural pest.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.