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This Week in Science: Jan 15, 2010

In Science this week, members of the Nasonia Genome Working Group report on their efforts to sequence and compare the genomes of three parasitoid wasp species in the genus Nasonia. The work is providing information about Nasonia biology and evolution as well as resources for future genetic studies using the wasps as a model organisms. ABC News, The Independent, and others discuss how the findings could affect the use of Nasonia for controlling pests. For more information on the paper, check out a related news story in our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News.

Researchers from the University of York's Centre for Novel Agricultural Products used deep transcriptome sequencing, pedigree studies, and field trials to first create a genetic map for the medicinal herb Artemisia annua and then to find genetic markers expected to help guide selective breeding of the plant. The goal: optimizing the yield of artemisinin, an A. annua natural product used in combination with other drugs to treat some forms of malaria. As BBC News reports, researchers hope the findings will lead to crop improvements that boost artemisinin supplies as early as 2012.

Meanwhile, in a perspectives article, University of South Florida researcher Wilbur Milhous and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research researcher Peter Weina praise the new Artemisia annua study, saying the scientists involved "have paved the way to fast-track breeding varieties in A. annua plants with highly desirable genetic traits."

Finally, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researcher Karen Adelman and her team report that they have isolated and characterized short RNAs from stalled RNA polymerase II promoters in Drosophila, revealing how often these RNAs are produced during elongation. "Significant levels of these short RNAs were generated from more than one third of all genes," they write, "indicating that promoter-proximal stalling is a general feature of early polymerase elongation."

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.