In an effort to discover all factors constraining the speed of polymerases in the PCR reaction, a University of Utah group headed by Carl Wittwer has developed a fluorescent probe to monitor polymerase activity.

In a trio of recent studies using this probe, the group has begun to define the various rate-limiting factors in the extension phase of PCR. Temperature and base content of a strand of template were shown to influence speed. Monovalent cations and secondary structure slowed down rates, and addition of just the right amount of DMSO could speed them up.

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Two researchers have found that behavioral genetic defenses in criminal cases don't tend to affect outcomes, according to Popular Science.

Researchers report that while host genetics influence the oral microbiome, they don't appear to affect cavity-causing microbes, the Economist says.

Pandas' gut microbiomes change as what they eat changes with the seasons, writes Discover's Inkfish blog.

In PLOS this week: comparative genomic study of malaria-linked macaque parasite, search for apple root reference genes, and more.