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This Week in Science: Mar 8, 2013

In this week's Science, a team led by researchers from Heinrich Heine University and Oklahoma State University report on the discovery that the red alga Galdieria sulphuraria, which lives in the toxic conditions of volcanic sulfur springs, acquired some of the genes it needs to survive from simpler organisms such as bacteria. The investigators sequenced the alga's genome and found acquired at least 75 genes through horizontal gene transfer. Around 5 percent of the alga's protein-coding genes were transferred from prokaryotes in this manner, including ones involved in "ecologically important processes ranging from heavy-metal detoxification to glycerol uptake and metabolism," the researchers write.

Also in Science, scientists from GlaxoSmithKline and Stanford University urge the inclusion of patients' clinical, social, and environmental histories along with genomic data to develop true personalized medicines. Focusing on genomics alone without giving consideration to other factors that affect patient outcomes could lead to "depersonalized" medicine, they warn, adding that an "emphasis on personal attributes of patients and their environments, and to incorporate these features into an enriched approach to personalized medicine" is needed to "complement the power of genomics."

The Scan

Genetic Ancestry of South America's Indigenous Mapuche Traced

Researchers in Current Biology analyzed genome-wide data from more than five dozen Mapuche individuals to better understand their genetic history.

Study Finds Variants Linked to Diverticular Disease, Presents Polygenic Score

A new study in Cell Genomics reports on more than 150 genetic variants associated with risk of diverticular disease.

Mild, Severe Psoriasis Marked by Different Molecular Features, Spatial Transcriptomic Analysis Finds

A spatial transcriptomics paper in Science Immunology finds differences in cell and signaling pathway activity between mild and severe psoriasis.

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.