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This Week in Nature: Apr 17, 2008

454 and Baylor have for the first time sequenced a full genome, that of James Watson, using next-gen technology. At a cost of $1.5 million and a timeframe less than four months, it's a big step for personal genomics and basic research. Not everyone is that impressed, though. In a related editorial, University of Washington's Maynard Olson wonders how much it's really worth, considering our lack of knowledge when it comes to actually pairing SNP data with disease causation. "It will be extremely difficult to extract medically, or even biologically, reliable inferences from individual sequences," he writes. At Genetic Future, Daniel MacArthur breaks this point down further.

NSF's iPlant Collaborative has offered $50 million to research focused on generating new computational tools. The money "can't be used to generate new data, only to create user-friendly computational tools. And, perhaps hardest of all, researchers have to persuade others in the field to collaborate on how to spend the funds," the article says.

Researchers at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona have systematically explored what happens when they shuffle promoters and ORFs in E. coli. Recombining the promoter regions and ORFs to create nearly 600 new connections, they found that most of them didn't harm the cell and in some cases, the strains grew even better. "These observations indicate that small-scale rewiring events probe the network landscape for fitness of the associated changes, without causing great detriment to the organism," says this News and Views article.

At Penn State, researchers have looked at the genomic evolution of the influenza A virus on a large scale. Analyzing 1,300 complete viral genomes sampled from temperate populations in both hemispheres, they show that there is frequent reassortment and periodic selective sweeps.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge is weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.