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This Week in PLoS: Nov 14, 2011

In PLoS One this week, investigators at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and elsewhere report their generation of an "efficient vector system to modify cells genetically." The team tagged genetically modified cells with a surface biotinylation label by co-transfecting them with a biotin ligase, BirA. "The modified cells can be quickly isolated for downstream applications using a simple streptavidin bead method," the authors write, adding that this approach can also be taken "to screen cells expressing two sets of genes from separate vectors."

In the same journal, researchers at Australia's University of Adelaide show that "plant DNA barcodes can accurately estimate species richness in poorly known floras." In a case study, the Adelaide team demonstrates the "potential of plant DNA barcodes for the rapid estimation of species richness in taxonomically poorly known areas or cryptic populations revealing a powerful new tool for rapid biodiversity assessment." Overall, the team says it shows that "although DNA barcodes fail to discriminate all species of plants, new perspectives and methods on biodiversity value and quantification may overshadow some of these shortcomings by applying barcode data in new ways."

Over in PLoS Genetics, the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Evan Eichler and his colleagues discuss the "relative burden of large CNVs on a range of neurodevelopmental phenotypes." Eichler et al. report data that suggest a "large CNV burden positively correlates with the severity of childhood disability."

And researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences this week report on six SNPs associated with gestational diabetes mellitus in a Chinese population. Writing in PLoS One, the team says "the effects of these SNPs on GDM might be through the impairment of beta cell function and these risk loci contributed additively to the disease."

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.