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This Week in PLOS: Dec 3, 2013

In PLOS One, the University of Maryland's Florian Fricke and colleagues describe gut microbial community dynamics in 14 individuals with recurrent Clostridium difficile infections treated with fecal microbiota transplants. By generating 16S ribosomal RNA profiles from stool samples collected for up to a year after transplantation and comparing microbial community members with those in samples from 14 healthy donor individuals, the team tracked the identity and diversity of microbes associated with FMT. The procedure generally led to a jump in microbial diversity in the patients, particularly right after FMT, study authors saw. But while the microbiomes began to resemble those of healthy donors, they tended to remain slightly less diverse. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the study, here.

Chinese researchers used a combination of traditional and next-generation transcriptome sequencing to identify proteins at play in the venom gland of the black widow spider, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus for another PLOS One study. With six venom gland samples from three adult black widow spiders, the group unearthed transcript sequences corresponding to more than 10,000 new or known high confidence proteins. Over-represented among them were transcripts that appear to be involved in the processing, production, and transport of RNAs and/or proteins, along with transcripts coding for potential toxins from a dozen protein families.

The existing genetic diversity present in North Africa populations appears to primarily explain ancestral influences since the last glacial warming period some 15,000 years ago, according to a PLOS One study by a group from Spain, Tunisia, and Lebanon. Using a combination of Y-chromosome and genotyping analysis data on thousands of North African individuals, including more than 300 Libyan and Moroccan individuals not profiled for past studies, the researchers uncovered comparable ancestral and admixture patterns in several North African populations over the past 15,000 years. Even so, some population differences emerged as well, they note, including longstanding genetic isolation by the Tunisian Berber population and a boost in Middle Eastern ancestry amongst populations in Egypt.