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This Week in PLOS: Apr 8, 2013

A PLOS One study by Swiss researchers suggests individuals may have distinct and distinguishable metabolite profiles in their breath. The research team used real-time mass spectrometry to assess exhaled compounds in breath samples from six men and five women. Analyses of the samples — taken at multiple times per day for each individual over nine days — revealed consistent core metabolite "breathprints" that were specific to each individual and remained stable over time. "Consistent with previous metabolomic studies based on urine," authors of the study explain, "we conclude that individual signatures of breath composition exist."

Members of the Gentrepreneur Consortium brought together genotyping and employment data for more than 50,000 European individuals as part of a meta-analysis looking for genetic contributors to entrepreneurial personality traits. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers did not find individual SNPs of significant effect, though their findings hint that common genetic variants spread across many genes may explain a considerable proportion of self-employment heritability (as estimated using twin data). "Although self-employment is a multi-faceted, heavily environmentally influenced, and biologically distal trait," study authors note, "our results are similar to those for other genetically complex and biologically more proximate outcomes, such as height, intelligence, personality, and several diseases."

A PLOS Genetics study by the Uppsala University's Siv Andersson and colleagues from Sweden, Greece, and Austria outlines a multiple displacement amplification-based scheme for sequencing the genomes of bacterial endosymbionts that can't be cultured in the lab. The group sequenced representatives from two strains of Wolbachia (an intracellular symbiont) that seem to co-infect the Drosophila simulans fly. Comparative genomic analyses of these so-called wHa and wNo strains revealed that the strains are not only genetically distinct Wolbachia clades, but also that they can co-exist in the same host without mixing.