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This Week in Science: Jul 11, 2014

In Science this week, an international team of scientists report findings that indicate coordinated patterns of gene expression among microbes living on the surface of the open ocean. They took water samples from different locations in the mid-Pacific during the course of three days and analyzed the bacteria they found. Notably, all species exhibited the same daily patterns of coordinated behavior, sinking at night to avoid being eaten and rising to the surface in daylight to harvest light energy to drive carbon fixation. The researchers then looked at the gene expression patterns of the various organisms and discovered staggered waves of gene expression between them. The investigators hypothesize that organisms in the open ocean where nutrient levels are low developed this coordination because they depend on one another for metabolic functions.

In Science Translational Medicine, a multi-institute team of European investigators describe how gene expression analysis can be used to differentiate between psoriasis and eczema, two skin conditions that are often troublesome to distinguish from each other. The researchers compared the molecular signatures in 24 patients with either of the conditions, and then used gene expression profiling to show that psoriasis largely resembles a wound healing reaction with an over-activated immune response in the upper layer of the skin. Eczema, meanwhile, is characterized by certain immune cell subtypes that hamper the epidermal barrier and immune response in the skin, prompting colonized by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on this study here.