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This Week in Science: Jun 14, 2014

In this week's Science, a team led by Stanford University researchers report the results of a study of the fine-scale patterns of genome evolution in Mexico, showing how that the genetics of country's people has been influenced by population dynamics of ancient Native Americans who lived there prior to European colonization. The findings show distinct genetic makeups of these ancient groups and suggest that many were highly isolated. The researchers also found a correlation between the degree of indigenous ancestry and lung health based on geography, indicating that the data may have use in precision medicine. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this work here.

Also in Science, a multi-institute group of investigators provide evidence that male chimpanzees contribute significantly more mutations to their offspring than do female chimpanzees due to an exaggerated bias more pronounced than that seen in humans. The scientists studied a pedigree of nine related Western chimpanzees over three generations and found that, while the chimps’ overall mutation rate has been comparable to humans’, male chimpanzees contribute seven to eight times more mutations to the next generation than females. The researchers also found that male chimpanzees contribute three more mutations to the germline with each year of age, while human males add just two new mutations into the mix each year. The results indicate that differences in the species' mating systems can influence gender bias and differential mutation rates.

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.