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This Week in PLOS: Nov 18, 2013

In PLOS Medicine, researchers from the US and Finland describe blood transcriptional signatures corresponding to respiratory syncytial virus infection and severity in infants. The expression patterns — identified using array-based analyses on blood samples from groups of American and Finnish infants with RSV — appear capable of distinguishing RSV from other forms of lower respiratory tract infection and finding those at risk of developing severe RSV infections. By looking at the nature of the genes showing enhanced or diminished expression in the blood during infection, the group also got a glimpse at the immune branches that become altered when RSV infection sets in. Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

A PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease study by researchers based in the UK and Malawi highlights genomic variation and apparent adaptations in invasive, non-typhoidal Salmonella enterica isolates from Malawi. The researchers sequenced 14 isolates involved in invasive infections in individuals from Malawi and four isolates collected in a veterinary context in the UK, focusing on a serovar called Bovismorbificans. Phylogenetic and comparative genomic analyses of the isolates indicated that the invasive strains in Malawi shared a sequence type with isolates from the UK and other parts of the world, study authors say, though the bacteremia-causing bugs carried a distinct virulence plasmid and showed other mobile genome differences.

The University of Miami's Eden Martin and Carlos Bustamante from Stanford University led an international team exploring Caribbean population history with array-based genetic approaches. As they report in PLOS Genetics, the investigators genotyped hundreds of individuals from South Florida with ancestry that traced back to half a dozen Caribbean populations. They also assessed 79 Venezuelans descended from the Yukpa, Bari, or Warao — three native South American groups. As reported by GWDN, the team saw not only saw genetic patterns coinciding with historical events before and after European colonization of the region, but also gained a clearer view of genetic diversity present in Caribbean and related populations.