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This Week in Science: Jan 31, 2009

A European Union report says that EU countries have grown their research force and attracted record amounts of R&D funding. However, Science points out that the EU is behind in attaining its self-imposed goal of reaching 3 percent R&D intensity (research spending as a percent of GDP) by 2010, coming in at 1.84 percent, though that figure varies by country.

Science breaks down the US stimulus package by what funds may be appropriated to which agencies. For both the House of Representative and Senate versions of the bill, $1.5 billion is slated to go to NIH. There isn't a consensus between the House and Senate versions for the funds for NSF, with $3 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, being discussed.

French researchers report that gene duplication and extinction are an important mechanism behind genetic incompatibility. By crossing different strains of Arabidopsis thaliana, the researchers show that two loci that control recessive embryo lethality interact epistatically. In the different accessions, they add, the function copy of the gene are located at different sites. "These paralogs demonstrate genetic heterogeneity in their respective evolutionary trajectories, which results in widespread incompatibility among strains," write the authors.

Also in this issue, British researchers show that serotonin is necessary and sufficient to spark swarming of desert locusts. They also outline a neurochemical mechanism that goes from individual interactions up to population changes and mass migration that, if blocked on an individual level would prevent the behavioral change. "To us this really was the Eureka! moment," lead author Michael Anstey said during a news conference.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.