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This Week in PLOS: Jul 2, 2013

Researchers from Sweden and Australia looked at methylation shifts in adipose tissue from dozens of men embarking on a six-month exercise regimen — work that they describe in PLOS Genetics. Using array-based approaches, the team assessed methylation patterns across the genome in 31 healthy men — 15 with a family history of diabetes and 16 without — who initially reported low levels of physical activity. The study's authors tested adipose tissue samples from 23 of the individuals after six months of more intensive exercise. That analysis revealed exercise-associated methylation changes at thousands of sites in the genome and dozens of genes. "Together, this study provides the first detailed map of the genome-wide DNA methylation pattern in human adipose tissue," they write, "and links exercise to altered adipose tissue DNA methylation, potentially affecting adipocyte metabolism."

A set of carefully controlled secondary metabolites help the fungus species Fusarium fujikuroi produce a disease known as bakanae in rice, according to a genome sequencing study in PLOS Pathogens. An international team led by investigators in Germany put together a high-quality genome assembly for F. fujikuroi. Through comparisons with sequences from other species in the same genus — as well as experiments looking at the transcriptomic, epigenetic, proteomic, and metabolite profiles of the pathogen — the researchers tallied up dozens of secondary metabolites in F. fujikuroi, including plant hormones called gibberellic acids. Genes involved in producing the latter metabolite, known for contributing to rice infections, are present in other Fusarium species, study authors noted, though F. fujikuroi appears to be the only one that makes the gibberellic acids.

A PLOS One study tracks the gut microbial community patterns associated with Salmonella infections in mice. A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory-led team used 16S RNA sequencing to assess gut microbiomes in mice with intestinal infections caused by the pathogenic Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimirium. When they folded in proteomic, metabolomic, and glycomic information, the group found clues that S. Typhumirium can upend the normal balance within mouse gut microbial communities, causing inflammation that shifts the levels of normal gut flora and their metabolites. Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.