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."