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This Week in Science: Aug 31, 2007

Researchers at the J. Craig Venter Institute and others have found evidence for widespread lateral gene transfer from bacteria to eukaryotes. Finding complete or parts of the Wolbachia pipientis bacterial parasite inside the genomes of four insect and four nematode species, they conclude that these incorporated genomes give the host some of its functioning traits.

In other research, IBM scientists used a scanning tunneling microscope to observe the magnetic orientation of iron and manganese atoms at low temperatures, which has potential application in both miniaturizing computer data storage and quantum computing. "Controlling magnetic direction is a crucial technique that is used in reading and writing digital information on magnetic storage disks like standard hard drives," says this New York Times news article.

Columbia University neuroscientists have identified miR-133b as deficient in midbrain dopaminergic neurons in patients with Parkinson's disease. They also confirmed that it operates within a negative feedback circuit that includes the paired-like homeodomain transcription factor Pitx3. For a thorough look, check out this perspective.

A book review of Michael Lynch's new book, The Origins of Genome Architecture, praises it for its breakdown of the evolution of genomes, but criticizes its last chapter, which argues that the theory of evolution is established and all we need to do to create a complete picture is look to 'omic information. But, the author writes, "As much as genes are fundamental to the evolutionary process, there is much more to biology than genes and their dynamics."


The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.