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This Week in PLOS: May 12, 2014

In PLOS Genetics, an international team led by researchers at Stanford University brought together data for hundreds of modern-day Sardinians and two ancient individuals from Bulgaria as part of their continued analysis of 5,300-year-old Tyrolean Iceman genome sequences. A comparison of the sequences indicated that the Iceman was related to populations in Sardinia as well as individuals involved in the early spread of agriculture. "We hypothesize that this genetic affinity of ancient samples from different parts of Europe with Sardinians represents a common genetic component that was geographically widespread across Europe during the Neolithic [period]," they note, "likely related to migrations and population expansions associated with the spread of agriculture."

Brazilian researchers tracked the transcriptional and proteomic patterns found in fungi from the Paracoccidioides genus behind human paracoccidioidomycosis infections — work they describe in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. By comparing Paracoccidioides fungi grown with or without carbon starvation, the team detected more than 1,000 differentially expressed transcripts and 421 proteins. Among the most frequently affected pathways were those coinciding with a switch from ethanol production in the presence of carbon to gluconeogenesis in its absence, the researchers report, noting that "alternative metabolic pathways that could be adopted by the organism during carbon starvation can be important for a better understanding of the fungal adaptation to the host."

Harvard University's Immaculate De Vivo and colleagues from the US and Canada considered the role that rare variants may play in endometrial cancer risk. As they reported in a PLOS One study, the researchers genotyped nearly 200,000 variants in more than 1,000 cases and almost 1,800 controls enrolled through studies done by the Endometrial Cancer Consortium. That approach has not yet unearthed rare variants with significant ties to endometrial cancer, the study's authors report, noting that "more power is needed to detect modest associations between rare genetic variants and risk of [endometrial cancer]."