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This Week in PLoS: May 21, 2012

In PLoS Genetics this week, researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine and elsewhere propose a "connection between the epigenome, selective mutability, evolution, and human disease" based on the findings of their study on associations of structural mutability with germline DNA methylation and with non-allelic homologous recombination mediated by low-copy repeats. "Combined evidence from four human sperm methylome maps, human genome evolution, structural polymorphisms in the human population, and previous genomic and disease studies consistently points to a strong association of germline hypomethylation and genomic instability," the Baylor-led team writes.

In the same journal, investigators at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research suggest, based on their studies on budding yeast, that "the capacity for accurate chromosome segregation by the mitotic system does not scale continuously with an increasing number of chromosomes, but may occur via discrete steps each time a full set of chromosomes is added to the genome." In addition, the Stowers team shows that "on top of such general ploidy-related effect, [chromosome instability] is also associated with the presence of specific aneuploid chromosomes as well as dosage imbalance between specific chromosome pairs."

Over in PLoS One, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Kunming Institute of Botany report on their analysis of DNA sequence variation in three gene markers in samples of the wild gourmet mushroom Boletus edulis. "Our results revealed 15 novel phylogenetic species ... and a newly identified lineage represented by Boletus sp. HKAS71346 from tropical Asia," the authors write, adding that their "phylogenetic analyses support eastern Asia as the center of diversity for the porcini sensu stricto clade," of which B. edulis is the only known holarctic species.

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.