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The Mouse Mother Genome

Jackson Laboratory researchers are trying to re-create the genome of the female mouse from which the lab's current line of C57BL/6J mice descend, Nature News reports.

Over the years as JAX and other institutions and companies have bred mice for use in research labs, natural genetic mutations have crept into the lines. While some of the shifts may be subtle, they can affect research efforts. For instance, Nature News notes that a substrain of C57BL/6 bred by US National Institutes of Health isn't interested in alcohol, while those bred by JAX are.

Johns Hopkins University's Cory Brayton tells Nature News that providers try to make their customers aware that strains vary by vendor, but that researchers don't always take note. This, she adds, can confound studies. 

By sequencing Eve — since 2005, all C57BL/6J mice sold by JAX are descendants of Eve and her consort Adam — JAX aims to uncover how different her genome is from the 2002 mouse reference genome as well as how the genetic drift that has occurred might affect research studies that rely on her descendants, Nature News reports. It adds that JAX is using three different sequencing approaches to tease out Eve's genetic code and that it plans on publishing the results early next year.

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.