In this week's Science, a team of researchers led by investigators from the University of Copenhagen report on a genomic analysis of two species of bats, the only mammals capable of sustained flight and hosts for highly pathogenic viruses. Combining whole-genome sequencing and comparative analyses of the fruit bat Pteropus alecto and insectivorous Myotis davidii , the scientists discovered an unexpected concentration of positively selected genes in the DNA damage checkpoint and nuclear factor-κB pathways, which may have helped the animals develop the ability to fly. They also pinpointed immune system-related genes that have been lost or are under selection, giving clues as to why bats may harbor disease.
Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.
Also in Science, research groups led by Harvard University investigators publish the results of two genome sequencing studies conducted on individual cells, which can be used to uncover cell-to-cell differences that may provide new insights into biological processes. The scientists used a new amplification method — called multiple annealing and looping-based amplification cycles, or MALBAC — and in one study achieved 93 percent genome coverage for a single human cell, allowing for the detection of small mutations. In the other, 99 sperm cells from a single individual were sequenced to reveal that recombination events tend to occur away from transcription site starts.