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.