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This Week in Science: May 16, 2014

In this week's Science, North Carolina State University's Rodolphe Barrangou highlights the potential of the gene-editing technology CRISPR, while stressing the importance of gaining further insights into the Cas9 endonuclease that cleaves targeted DNA in order to improve the specificity and efficiency of the system.

Also in Science, a University of Sheffield-led team report data from a genome analysis of stick insects showing how certain aspects of evolution are predictable and repeatable. The researchers sequenced the genomes of two ecotypes of the stick insect Timema cristinae, each of which have adapted to a different host plant, and compared them to see how their environments shaped their genetic makeup. They found thousands of diverging genomic regions among the stick insects' ecotypes, but found that most of these genomic changes were influenced by geographic location rather than host plant. The investigators then switched each type of insect to the other's host plant and discovered that the ecotypes' genomes exhibited both converging and diverging regions after just one generation on a different host. Altogether, the findings suggest that natural selection can drive a parallel evolution among ecotypes of a species and that replicate species could evolve separately under similar environmental pressures. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.