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Nature Papers Describe Black Mustard Plant Genome, Link Between Autism and Dyslipidemia

The genome of the black mustard plant Brassica nigra is presented by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada scientists in Nature Plants this week. A member of the agriculturally important Brassicaceae family, Brassica nigra has largely been neglected in terms of genetic analysis and selection through breeding, the team writes. Further, it has retained valuable allelic diversity compared to its relatives due to limited domestication and its production as out-crossing populations, making it an untapped repository for Brassica breeding. To gain insights into the plant, the investigators generated two high-quality long-read B. nigra genome assemblies using nanopore sequencing, chromosome-level scaffolding with Hi-C, and genetic mapping data. Direct methylome profiling using the nanopore data allowed the resolution of candidate active centromeres of the chromosomes, while computationally defined genomic distances between the three Brassica diploid genomes allowed the construction of an ancestral Brassica-specific genome.

Demonstrating the potential of combining different data modalities to drive precision medicine, a team led by scientists from Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School report the identification of a link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and dyslipidemia. The investigators integrated large datasets of familial whole-exome sequences, neurodevelopmental expression patterns, electronic health records, and healthcare claims to discover a previously unrecognized nonsyndromic ASD subtype characterized by dyslipidemia. The study, the authors write in Nature Medicine, represents "a proof of concept for the value of using massive amounts of existing multimodal data to push the boundaries of existing knowledge, thereby moving us closer to precision medicine for ASD." GenomeWeb has more on this, here.