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This Week in Science: Jan 4, 2008

Science pulls together how the US presidential candidates stand on scientific issues. Hillary Clinton might have the most detailed science policy, though it is not well-defined. Mike Huckabee doesn't accept evolution, but says he doesn't plan on rewriting science curricula. Barack Obama's campaign has lofty (and possibly unattainable) goals. Mitt Romney opposes embryonic stem cell research and doubts that people had an effect on global warming. John Edwards comes across as an environmentalist, though as a personal-injury lawyer he sued doctors of children with cerebral palsy for millions of dollars. Descriptions on Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Bill Richardson, Fred Thompson, and other Democrats and Republicans are also included.

A news story laments the lack of progress in pinpointing a gene for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Since the 1990s, many genes have been linked to ALS, but recent genome-wide association studies uncovered completely different genes, adding even more perplexity to the mix.

The issue also includes an obituary for Seymour Benzer, a pioneer of neurogenetics. Benzer started off his academic career as a physicist working on semiconductors, then shifted into biology and discovered that a gene is not an indivisible unit, as had been assumed. He changed his focus in the 1960s to the connections between genes, brain, and behavior and again in the 1990s to study lifespan. Benzer was 86.

Stefan Rensing and his collaborators report the draft sequence of the moss Physcomitrella patens genome. They then compared this moss genome to flowering plants and aquatic unicellular algae genomes to conclude that as plants moved toward living on land, they lost genes needed for aquatic survival and instead acquired genes that helped them survive on land, such as ones associated with sustaining variation in temperature and water availability.


The Scan

Gone, But Now Reconstructed SARS-CoV-2 Genomes

In a preprint, a researcher describes his recovery of viral sequences that had been removed from a common database.

Rare Heart Inflammation Warning

The Food and Drug Administration is adding a warning about links between a rare inflammatory heart condition and two SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Reuters reports.

Sandwich Sampling

The New York Times sent tuna sandwiches for PCR analysis.

Nature Papers Describe Gut Viruses, New Format for Storing Quantitative Genomic Data, More

In Nature this week: catalog of DNA viruses of the human gut microbiome, new dense depth data dump format to store quantitative genomic data, and more.