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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

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.