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This Week in PLOS: Mar 3, 2014

The processes of cattle domestication and breed formation have left signs of selective sweeps in the genomes of modern-day cattle, according to a PLOS Genetics study by researchers in Germany and the US. Using millions of SNPs found through re-sequencing of 43 animals from a German cattle breed called Fleckvieh, the team narrowed in on more than 100 regions suspected of being subject to past selection. To that, the group added association mapping information gleaned from more than 3,000 cattle, identifying genes related to coat color and other cattle traits that overlapped with some apparent sites of selection.

In PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, an international team led by investigators in the Czech Republic and the US outline findings from a transcriptomics study comparing genes expressed in the salivary glands of sand flies found in parts of Ethiopia where visceral leishmaniasis does and does not occur. The sand flies in question, Phlebotomus orientalis, are the main vector for the leishmaniasis-causing parasite Leishmania donovani, study's authors note. By sequencing salivary transcripts from flies in visceral leishmaniasis-free and visceral leishmaniasis-prone parts of Ethiopia, the group learned more about relationships between these and other sand flies. Even so, they did not detect obvious differences in salivary transcriptomes that coincided with colonies living in locales where L. donovani infections are present.

As they report in PLOS One, Austrian researchers used multilocus sequencing typing and genome sequencing to characterize two Listeria monocytogenes strains isolated from contaminated curds of the Austrian cheese Quargel during a listeriosis outbreak in Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic during 2009 and 2010. The group's MLST analysis of the foodborne pathogen strains indicated that they belonged to different sequence types. Investigators also detected differences in the whole-genome sequences from the bugs, including dissimilar virulence factors. Together, these and other features argued against the notion that the two outbreaks strains recently stemmed from a shared ancestor. Instead, the authors speculate that the cheese-borne outbreak of 2009 and 2010 "might actually represent two overlapping outbreaks caused by separate contamination events with the same food processing plant."