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This Week in PLOS: Jun 17, 2014

In PLOS Genetics, researchers from the US, the UK, and Yemen used new and existing genome-wide SNP profiles for individuals in Yemen and other regions in the Horn of Africa to consider the possibility that there were historical migrations back to Africa. Indeed, their analyses indicated that individuals in the Horn of Africa tend to have both African and non-African ancestry that is distinct from present-day non-African populations in the region. The study's authors suspect that this Ethio-Somali ancestry reflects historical mixing with a population that returned to Africa prior to the advent of widespread agriculture. "These results contribute to a growing body of work showing that prehistoric hunter-gatherer populations were much more dynamic than usually assumed," they write.

With the help of a genome-wide "tethering" screen, a team from Germany tracked down proteins contributing to post-transcriptional regulation in the Trypanosooma brucei, a parasite known for causing sleeping sickness. As they report in PLOS Pathogens, the researchers performed a screen that involved attaching bits of protein to messenger RNA to track down 300 proteins with potential roles in regulating these mRNAs after transcription. That set included known regulators as well as 150 candidates not described previously.

Researchers from China describe paraquat-resistance genes that they identified in the weed plant Eleusine indica, or goosegrass, through transcriptome sequencing. The team sequenced RNA from four goosegrass samples, representing paraquat-treated or -untreated goosegrass from biotypes known for their sensitivity or resistance to the herbicide. By considering the transcriptomes of each plant and comparing them to one another, the investigators identified a range of potential paraquat-resistance genes. These included dozens of genes known for their role in scavenging reactive oxygen species, along with genes from transport and polyamine-related pathways.