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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

Transcriptomic, Epigenetic Study Appears to Explain Anti-Viral Effects of TB Vaccine

Researchers report in Science Advances on an interferon signature and long-term shifts in monocyte cell DNA methylation in Bacille Calmette-Guérin-vaccinated infant samples.

DNA Storage Method Taps Into Gene Editing Technology

With a dual-plasmid system informed by gene editing, researchers re-wrote DNA sequences in E. coli to store Charles Dickens prose over hundreds of generations, as they recount in Science Advances.

Researchers Model Microbiome Dynamics in Effort to Understand Chronic Human Conditions

Investigators demonstrate in PLOS Computational Biology a computational method for following microbiome dynamics in the absence of longitudinally collected samples.

New Study Highlights Role of Genetics in ADHD

Researchers report in Nature Genetics on differences in genetic architecture between ADHD affecting children versus ADHD that persists into adulthood or is diagnosed in adults.