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This Week in PLOS: Nov 25, 2013

In PLOS Genetics, a research duo from Stanford University presents findings from a whole-genome study of yeast populations adapted to growth under unchanging environmental conditions. By sequencing representatives from Saccharomyces cerevisiae populations grown many generations in constant, sugar-limited conditions, the team tracked down more than 100 mutations that appear to coincide with adaptation by the yeast communities. In particular, those changes seem more apt to affect members of signaling pathways, they note, leading to a predicted dip in yeast's ability to sense changes in its external environment.

Long non-coding RNAs can contribute to processes that switch on the expression of inducible genes in yeast, according to a study in PLOS Biology. Purdue University researchers used a combination of cell biology approaches to profile a pair of lncRNAs found in and around S. cerevisiae GAL genes, which get turned on when the sugar galactose is available. Based on their findings, they propose that "these lncRNA molecules poise inducible genes for quick response to extracellular cues, triggering a faster switch in transcriptional programs."

A team from South Korea and Japan used comparative genomics and genome-wide association approaches to characterize three strains of Streptococcus parauberis that are know for causing infections in olive flounder and other fish grown in aquaculture settings. As they reported in PLOS One, the researchers sequenced two Japanese strains of S. parauberis before comparing the sequences to one another and to an already-sequenced Korean strain. In the process, they uncovered SNPs, small insertions and deletions, and gene content differences between the strains, along with CRISPR/Cas content differences suspected of rendering one of the strains more resistant to viral interlopers.

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.