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This Week in PLoS : Feb 27, 2012

In PLoS One this week, investigators at Tohoku University in Japan identify candidate polymorphic regions flanked on each side by conserved regions in the reference genomes for a variety of organisms and report primers they've designed based on these. The authors say these primers can be used "to amplify polymorphic genomic fragments of multiple nuclear genes in non-sequenced organisms."

Over in PLoS Biology, an international team led by investigators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign discusses "patterns of gene flow [that] define species of thermophilic archaea." Among this group, "we do not observe a relationship between genetic divergence and frequency of recombination along a chromosome, or other physical mechanisms that would reduce gene flow between lineages," the authors write. "Each species has its own genetic island encoding unique physiological functions and a unique growth phenotype that may be indicative of ecological specialization."

Writing in PLoS Pathogens, Duke University Medical Center's Anastasia Litvintseva and Thomas Mitchell discuss the African origin of, and strain variation within, Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii through a population genetic analysis study. In their paper, Litvintseva and Mitchell also present "evidence that pigeons facilitated the global dispersion of Southern African strains" of the pathogen.

Also in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a team led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences reports its investigation of mitochondrial datasets to deduce the "clear genetic distinctiveness between human- and pig-derived Trichuris." Overall, the team says its findings "support the proposal that T. trichiura and T. suis are separate species, consistent with previous data for nuclear ribosomal DNA."

The Scan

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.

Machine Learning Improves Diagnostic Accuracy of Breast Cancer MRI, Study Shows

Combining machine learning with radiologists' interpretations further increased the diagnostic accuracy of MRIs for breast cancer, a Science Translational Medicine paper finds.

Genome Damage in Neurons Triggers Alzheimer's-Linked Inflammation

Neurons harboring increased DNA double-strand breaks activate microglia to lead to neuroinflammation like that seen in Alzheimer's disease, a new Science Advances study finds.

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.