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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

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.