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This Week in Nature: May 29, 2008

A news article discusses the benefits of genetic testing, and whether it will have any effect on people's behavior. With "scant evidence that people are affected deeply by genetic test results, or that such tests spur much change in behavior," researchers wonder whether these tests are worthwhile investments.

Two news features look at worldwide research on the human microbiome. One details efforts by NIH and the European Commission to put almost $150 million into sequencing the 10 trillion or so microbial cells living in the gut. In another, surgeons take the opportunity to study microbes as they colonize the walls of the gut after transplanting an intestine.

Penn State scientists have analyzed 1,302 complete viral genomes sampled from temperate populations in both hemispheres in order to study the "genome-scale evolutionary dynamics" of the influenza A virus. They found that evolution of the virus is characterized by "a complex interplay between frequent reassortment and periodic selective sweeps."

Celebrating 10 years of metagenomics, a technology feature explores how advances in sequencing have helped shape the field. Challenges remain, including assembly and prediction of gene function. While next-gen sequencing is suitable, "the biggest change in metagenomics will come from 'third generation' sequencing systems or single-molecule sequencing," says Penn State's Stephan Schuster.


The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.