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Might as Well Look

Researchers working with the MIT-based Search for Extraterrestrial Genomes are adapting gene sequencing tools to explore whether there is life on Mars, Quartz reports. It notes that the researchers are seeking out extreme environments on Earth — such as spots with high salinity or acidity — to test their approaches.

The project, it adds, assumes that if there is indeed any type of life on Mars that it is likely similar to what has arisen on Earth and could be detected using similar approaches. In particular, the team is combining tools from Claremont BioSolutions and Oxford Nanopore Technologies into a platform that it hopes could someday be sent to Mars to collect and analyze samples, without the need for a human operator, Quartz says. The team plans to test the instrument it is building in the Atacama desert of Chile next April to show NASA that it is ready for space.

While there may be life on Mars, there also may not be. But, Christopher Carr, an MIT astrobiologist working on the project tells Quartz that "it seems likely enough that we ought to check." 

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.