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This Week in PLoS : Apr 2, 2012

Investigators at Ludwig-Maximilians-University show in an SNP analysis on a population of 2,196 people — including 913 Crohn's disease patients, 318 ulcerative colitis patients, and 965 healthy, unrelated controls — that "rs6887695 modulates the susceptibility and the phenotype of IBD [inflammatory bowel disease]." Writing in PLoS One this week, the authors add that the SNP's effect on inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility "is less pronounced than that of IL23R gene variants."

Over in PLoS Genetics, researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases report on their use of a "bivariate linear mixed-effects model to estimate the narrow-sense heritability and heritability explained by the common SNPs for several metabolic syndrome traits and the genetic correlation between pairs of traits for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities genome-wide association study population." The team says its model supports large genetic correlations between body-mass index and waist-to-hip ratio, as well as between fasting trigylcerides and fasting high-density lipoprotein in the population.

Elsewhere in the journal, the University of California, Berkeley's Frederick Tan and his colleagues discuss the role of Sgs1- and Exo1-dependent resection on genome stability in the context of experiments they performed using a non-selective assay they previously developed using diploid yeast. "We find that Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacking Sgs1 and Exo1 [retain] a very efficient repair process that is highly mutagenic to genome structure," Tan et al. write. "Specifically, 51 percent of cells lacking Sgs1 and Exo1 repair a double-strand break using repetitive sequences 12 [to] 48 kb distal from the initial break site, thereby generating a genome rearrangement."

Finally, researchers at the University of Georgia discuss the genetic basis of floral symmetry in the context of "double-flowered sunflower mutants … such as those captured by Vincent van Gogh in his famous nineteenth-century sunflower paintings."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.