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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."