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New York Rats Through and Through

If pizza rat didn't convince you, a new preprint suggests that rats living in New York City have adapted to the environment there.

Researchers led by Fordham University's Jason Munshi-South collected DNA samples from 29 brown rats they caught in Manhattan. As they report in a preprint at BioRxiv, they sequenced these rats and compared their genomes to those of brown rats living in what is thought to be the ancestral range of brown rats. From this, they uncovered a number of potential selective sweeps in the New York rats near genes involved in metabolism, mobility, and behavior, including a sweep near CYP2D1.

Co-author Arbel Harpak from Columbia University tells Nature News that he and his colleagues plan to catch rats from other cities to see whether they have followed similar adaptive paths. "As both an evolutionary biologist and a New Yorker, I can't help but be amazed by the ways that rats have adapted to urban environments," Harpak adds.