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This Week in Nature: Aug 15, 2014

In this week's Nature Communications, researchers from Washington State University report the genome of the Antarctic midge, the continent's only native insect and one known for its ability to survive freezing, desiccation, strong winds, and other harsh environmental conditions. In the midge, the scientists found a reduction in the number of repetitive genetic sequences and shorter stretches of DNA separating coding regions of the genome, giving it the smallest insect genome yet discovered. They also found a number of genes associated with development, metabolism, and stimulation response, all of which likely evolved under strong natural selection pressure. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the midge genome here.

Meanwhile, in Nature Methods, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology group described the use of the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas 9 to efficiently alter the genome of Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite responsible for malaria infection. With the technology, they were able to achieve high gene disruption frequencies within the usual time frame for generating transgenic parasites. "These findings promise to substantially accelerate the process for achieving targeted gene disruptions in P. falciparum for functional genetics studies," the researchers add.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.