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This Week in Science: Aug 22, 2014

This week in Science, scientists from the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique in France publish the genome sequence of Brassica napus, the plant from which canola oil is derived. B. napus is an allopolyploid, with chromosomes from Asian cabbage and Mediterranean cabbage that were found to continuously exchange corresponding genetic material. Such gene conversion events, the researchers say, appear to have been selected by humans as part of crop improvement. This selection process led to plants with higher oil content and lower levels of undesirable glucosinolates. GenomeWeb Daily News has more on the canola genome here.

In Science Translational Medicine, scientists from Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and the University of Texas report on an RNA interference-based drug capable of completely protecting non-human primates from the deadly Marburg virus, a close relative of Ebola virus, up to 72 hours after infection. Marburg is closely related to Ebola, and the data may point to the RNAi approach as an effective strategy for dealing with the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa.

The Scan

Polygenic Risk Score to Predict Preeclampsia, Gestational Hypertension in Pregnant Women

Researchers in Nature Medicine provide new mechanistic insights into the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, which may help develop therapeutics.

New Oral Nanomedicine Strategy Targets Gut-Brain Axis to Treat IBD

A new paper in Science Advances describes a platform to design polyphenol-armored oral medicines that are effective at treating inflammatory bowel disease.

Phylogenetic Data Enables New Floristic Map

Researchers in Nature Communications use angiosperm phylogenetic data to refine the floristic regions of the world.

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.