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Nature Papers Describe Processes Involved in Dutch Elm Disease Diversity, Mitochondrial Landscape in Japanese Population

Combining whole-genome sequencing and growth phenotyping, a team led by scientists from Université Laval show that hybridization and subsequent introgression have been largely responsible for genetic diversity among the fungal lineages responsible for Dutch elm disease. As reported in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the researchers analyzed a worldwide collection of isolates and show that introgressions containing genes involved in host-pathogen interactions and reproduction have been the main drivers of the pathogens' genomic diversity and impacted fitness-related traits. "Our study provides new evidence that supports the contribution of hybridization to genome evolution in invasive tree pathogens, which results in increased adaptability and capacity to overcome host and environmental challenges," the authors write.

A review of how super high-resolution and live-cell imaging are changing our understanding of genome organization is presented in Nature Methods this week. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology discuss the latest technologies for studying the folding of the genome in space and time, comparing and contrasting population-based chromosome conformation capture approaches and imaging-based approaches. They also touch on challenges facing the field.

A comprehensive analysis characterizing the genetic and phenotypic landscape of mitochondria in the Japanese population is reported in Communications Biology this week. A group led by investigators from Osaka University constructed a high-resolution mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variant list and haplotype classifications in the Japanese population based on deep whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of nearly 2,000 individuals, identifying 2,023 mtDNA variants and high-resolution haplogroups. The researchers also conducted mitochondrial genome-wide genotype imputation of genome-wide association study data of more than 140,000 Japanese individuals with 99 clinical phenotypes using the population-specific WGS reference data, observing pleiotropy of mtDNA genetic risk on five late-onset human complex traits.