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Dormant Ancient Nematodes Reanimated, Sequenced

Nematodes that had been lying dormant in the Siberian permafrost since the late Pleistocene have been reanimated and sequenced in a new study. Researchers from Russia, Germany, and elsewhere used radiocarbon dating to trace the age of the worms, which preliminary analysis had suggested belonged to either the genera Panagrolaimus or Plectus, to find they are approximately 46,000 years old. As they report in PLOS Genetics, the researchers also generated a genome assembly for the nematodes — which they note are triploid — and through further phylogenetic analyses, they determined that their ancient nematodes belong to a previously undescribed species, which they then dubbed Panagrolaimus kolymaensis. In a comparative analysis with the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, they found that the two nematodes rely on similar biochemical approaches to cryptobiosis. "[O]ur findings indicate that by adapting to survive cryptobiotic state for short time frames in environments like permafrost, some nematode species gained the potential for individual worms to remain in the state for geological timeframes," the researchers add. "This raises the question of whether there is an upper limit to the length of time an individual can remain in the cryptobiotic state."


Genetic research, in the journals, Scan

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.