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This Week in Science: Dec 20, 2013

In this week's Science, a group of international researchers reports on new details about the genome of Amborella trichopoda, the oldest of all angiosperms. In one paper, the team published the plant's comprehensive nuclear genome, offering insights into the diversification of flowering plants. In a second paper, the scientists present the complete mitochondrial genome of Amborella, showing that much of it was acquired by horizontal gene transfer with other organisms such as mosses. In the final paper, the group discusses the use of next-generation sequence technologies, fluorescent in situ hybridization, and whole-genome mapping to assemble a high-quality genome sequence for the plant. "As the only extant member of an ancient lineage, Amborella provides a unique window into the earliest events in angiosperm evolution," the team notes.

GenomeWeb Daily News has more on these papers here.

Also in Science, the journal named clinical genomics as an area to watch in 2014, stating that, in the coming year, more and more doctors will request patients' genomic sequences — either in their entirety or partially — in order to diagnose diseases and guide treatments. "Several studies will explore whether sequencing should become part of newborn screening and even guide the medical care of healthy people," while there will be increasing discussion about whether incidental results from sequencing should be revealed to patients, Science says.

Science also notes that its predictions for 2013 did OK, generating some mixed results. It gives itself a thumbs-up on calling out single-cell sequencing and connectomes as some of this year's trends.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.