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This Week in PLoS: Apr 30, 2012

A team led by investigators at the Schizophrenia Research Institute in Sydney this week presents an analysis of schizophrenia-associated transcriptional diversity within the post-mortem superior temporal gyrus from nine subjects with schizophrenia and nine matched non-psychiatric controls. Writing in PLoS One, the team says its investigation "revealed variants with important implications for the complex pathophysiology of schizophrenia."

In PLoS One, Yale University's Nancy Moran and her colleagues report having surveyed the gut microbiota of 40 worker bees from two geographically distinct sites, sampling four colonies from each. The first blastn hits in GenBank for more than 99 percent of reads the team generated ended up being members of known bee phylotypes. "Analysis of Sanger sequences of rRNA of the Snodgrassella and Gilliamella phylotypes revealed that single bees contain numerous distinct strains of each phylotype," Moran et al. write. "Strains showed some differentiation between localities, especially for the Snodgrassella phylotype."

Researchers at China's Nanjing Normal University show in PLoS One this week that Chinese cobras, which are treated as a homogenous population, in fact show divergence. The Nanjing team "combined 12 microsatellite loci and 1,117 [base pairs] of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene to explore genetic structure and demographic history in this species, using 269 individuals from various localities in Mainland China and Vietnam." They found that "microsatellite data divided the eastern [and] southeastern China clade further into two genetic clusters, which include individuals from the eastern and southeastern regions, respectively." As a result of its findings, the team suggests that "the release of Chinese cobras into the wild should cease unless their origin can be determined, and this will avoid problems arising from unnatural homogenization."

Over in PLoS Computational Biology, Christos Ouzounis at the Centre for Research and Technology, Hellas in Thessaloniki, Greece, contemplates the future of the field of bionformatics. In this review, Ouzounis explores "both historical aspects and future trends and [argues] that as the field expands, key questions remain unanswered and acquire new meaning while at the same time the range of applications is widening to cover an ever increasing number of biological disciplines." Daily Scan's sister blog Informatics Iron has more on this paper.

The Scan

CDC Calls Delta "Variant of Concern"

CNN reports the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to be a "variant of concern."

From FDA to Venture Capital

Former FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn is taking a position at a venture capital firm, leading some ethicists to raise eyebrows, according to the Washington Post.

Consent Questions

Nature News writes that there are questions whether informed consent was obtained for some submissions to a database of Y-chromosome profiles.

Cell Studies on Multimodal Single-Cell Analysis, Coronaviruses in Bats, Urban Microbiomes

In Cell this week: approach to analyze multimodal single-cell genomic data, analysis of bat coronaviruses, and more.