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Genome Sequences Reveal Evolutionary History of South America's Canids

In a paper appearing in PNAS this week, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and other international centers rely on whole-genome sequencing, phylogenetics, comparative genomics, and other approaches to explore South American canid evolution, natural selection, gene flow between species, and the genetic differences behind the wildly different phenotypes found across the South American canids. Based on 18 new and 13 available canid genomes — which together represented 10 canid species found in western, central, and eastern parts of South America — the team estimated that canid diversity east of the Andes largely stemmed from an ancestral canid that colonized the continent an estimated 3.5 million to 3.9 million years ago, while regions west of the Andes include canids descended from Lycalopex species colonization and divergence. "Overall, our results reveal evolutionary insights into the adaptive radiation of the most diverse community of endemic canids, which have puzzled evolutionary biologists and naturalists for centuries," the authors conclude.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.