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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."