Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

This Week in Science: Oct 4, 2013

In Science this week, a team researchers from the University of California, Riverside, and elsewhere report on the discovery of fungal small RNAs that block a host plant's defense mechanisms by hijacking its RNAi pathways. The investigators studied the fungus Botrytis cinerea, which causes gray mold disease in certain plants, and identified 832 small RNAs that invaded the cells of Arabidopsis and tomato plants when they were infected by the pathogen. Of those, 73 sRNAs appeared capable of targeting specific host genes and silencing mRNA. Further examination showed that three sRNAs could bind to the plant's Argonaute protein, forming a complex that took over the host's RNAi machinery. As a result, the fungus was able to suppress certain genes in the plants that are associated with immunity.

Also in Science, a Yale University group presents a study combining two large-scale genome-analysis projects to look at the role of genetic variation in disease. The investigators examined data from the 1000 Genomes project, the ENCODE project, and other initiatives and found several harmful variants that impacted health, including ones that occurred in non-coding DNA. With these data, the scientists created bioinformatics software that allowed them to identify variants in non-coding DNA could be used as proxies for the likelihood of developing cancer-related mutations.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.