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This Week in PLoS: Oct 28, 2008

A Perspectives article in PLoS Biology wonders if initiatives in developing countries based on the US Bayh-Dole Act, which encourages universities to patent inventions derived from government-funded research, will help those regions stimulate economic growth. The authors say that that the economic impact of the act in the US has been overstated and that "may lead developing countries to expect far more than they are likely to receive."

A team from the INRIA Centre de Recherche Bordeaux-Sud-Ouest reports in PLoS Computational Biology that gene fusion and fission are "landmarks of random remodelling, independent of mutation rate." They created a computational method to detect gene fusions and fissions that took gene redundancy into consideration and applied it to 12 fungal species that have nearly complete genomes. They detected 1,608 events in the protein-coding regions of the genomes.

In PLoS Genetics, Australian researchers say that genome-wide marker data can be used to predict phenotypes. They used a Bayesian method to predict phenotypes such as coat color, percent CD8 cells, and mean cell hemoglobin in a mouse population. "The prediction of unobserved phenotypes for complex traits from genome-wide marker data is feasible and can be accurate," they write.

Researchers led by Päivi Lahermo "warn against a priori assumptions of homogeneity among Finns and other seemingly isolated populations." They analyzed nearly 250,000 SNPs from 945 samples from eastern and western Finland, northern Germany, Great Britain, and Sweden and complemented their data with HapMap data. They found small, though statistically significant, differences between the European populations but also between Finns from the eastern and western regions of the country. "In fact, the differences between Eastern and Western Finns were of the same magnitude as the differences between Swedes and British, and much stronger than those between British and Germans," they write.


The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.