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Nature Papers Present Water Lily Genome, Genetic and Structural Influences on Immune Variation, More

The genome of the water lily is presented in this week's Nature, providing a look into the early evolution of angiosperms. A team led by scientists from Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University report the 409-megabase genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily — Nymphaea colorata — and provide evidence of a whole-genome duplication event shared by members of the water lily family and, possibly, related aquatic plants of the Cabombaceae family. Other findings include expansions of genes related to immunity and stress response, which may explain the water lily's global distribution including into cold regions.

The genetic and structural influences on immune variation are reported in Nature Immunology this week. Investigators from King's College London and international collaborators use a novel high-density murine immunophenotyping platform that is compatible with high-throughput genetic screening to identify mutations in 140 genes that perturb immunophenotype, more than half of which had not previously been implicated in immunobiology. Notably, these "hits" were collectively enriched in genes for which humans show poor tolerance to loss of function. The study, its authors write, provides "an expanded genetic resource and structural perspective for understanding and monitoring immune variation in health and disease."

The draft genomes of Mesostigma viride and Chlorokybus atmophyticus — two early diverging streptophyte algae found in the contrasting environments — are published in Nature Plants this week, offering new clues about plants' aquatic to terrestrial transition. M. viride is found in the benthos of small shallow ponds, while C. atmophyticus is a subaerial/terrestrial alga. By analyzing the plants' genomes, a BGI-Shenzhen-led team provides evidence that their common ancestor had already developed key traits associated with a subaerial/terrestrial environment, supporting a recent hypothesis that streptophyte algae lived on land before the emergence of embryophytes. The scientists also find that the two genomes differ in size, structure, and gene complement, revealing the dynamic nature of their genomes, likely in response to adaptations to their contrasting habitats.