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This Week in PLOS: Jun 24, 2013

A PLOS One study of snail genetics has unearthed similarities amongst Cepaea nemoralis snails in the Pyrenees and Ireland suspected of stemming from ancient human sea travel between the locales. A pair of researchers from the University of Nottingham used two mitochondrial markers to classify nearly 900 C. nemoralis snails from populations across Western Europe and the UK into seven mitochondrial lineages. One of these, the C lineage, turned up almost exclusively in snails from the Eastern Pyrenees and Ireland, hinting that some of the ancient snail fossils previously found in Ireland could have come from snails introduced by humans arriving from the Pyrenees region by sea.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study here.

Lateral gene transfer from bacterial to human cells is more likely to occur in tumors than in normal tissue, according to a study appearing in PLOS Computational Biology. University of Maryland researchers used sequence data from the 1,000 Genomes Project, the Cancer Genome Atlas project, and the Human Genome Project to retrace bacterial DNA integration into the genome of human somatic cells. Findings from their analysis suggest these integration events are more common-than-usual in tumors, mitochondrial sequences, and RNA samples. "These data support our hypothesis that bacterial integrations occur in the human somatic genome," according to the study's authors, "and may play a role in carcinogenesis."

In PLOS Genetics, a team from Oregon State University describes findings from a genome sequencing study of Tolypocladium inflatum, a pathogenic fungus known for infecting beetle larvae and producing an immunosuppressant compound called cyclosporin. After putting together a draft genome for one T. inflatum strain, the researchers used phylogenomics and comparative genomics to look at relationships between T. inflatum and other insect-infecting fungi. They also considered processes at play during secondary metabolites production. "The T. inflatum genome provides additional insight into the evolution and biosynthesis of cyclosporin," study authors say, "and lays a foundation for further investigations of the role of secondary metabolite gene clusters and their metabolites in fungal biology."