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Conservation Genomic Study Uncovers Citrus Crop Clues in Wild Plant Relatives

In a paper appearing in PLOS Genetics, investigators from Huazhong Agricultural University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and other centers in China and the US outline genomics-based approaches for conserving the wild plant relatives of crop species, focusing on Fortunella hindsii wild kumquat plants related to cultivated citrus plants. With genome resequencing on 73 sexually reproducing or asexual Fortunella accessions, the team characterized population structure in the plants, along with the plants' demographic features, genetic load, inbreeding patterns, and introgression from cultivated plants. Among other patterns, for example, the results point to the potential importance of reproductive patterns used by the plants, which appeared to affect everything from genetic load and introgression patterns to deleterious mutation profiles and genetic diversity. "We found that different patterns of introgression and genetic load may be influenced by reproductive type," the authors write, noting that the work "serves as an example of conservation genomics and the importance of utilizing important wild relatives of crops to inform broader conservation efforts."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.