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Nature Papers Examine Peregrine Falcon Migration Patterns, Tool to Search Single-Cell Data

A study combining satellite tracking and genome sequencing reveals that environmental changes have shaped the migration patterns of peregrine falcons and points to possible declines in populations of these birds as climate change continues. As reported in Nature, a team led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences used satellite tracking to follow 56 peregrine falcons from migratory Arctic populations and resequenced 35 genomes of peregrine falcons from four of these populations. They identified five migratory routes across Eurasia, which were likely established by longitudinal and latitudinal shifts in the birds' breeding grounds during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum between 20,000 years and 30,000 years ago to roughly the present day. The scientists also discovered a gene that is more active in birds that migrate longer distances and appears to be associated with the development of long-term memory. The researchers predict that global warming will likely alter the Eurasian Arctic peregrine's migration strategies and breeding areas, representing a clear threat to the bird's future.

A new computational tool for rapidly searching large collections of single-cell data is reported in Nature Methods this week. Called scfind, the resource uses natural language processing techniques to enable sophisticated queries for large datasets through a user-friendly interface. Its developers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute used transcriptome data from six mouse cell atlases to show how scfind can evaluate marker genes, perform in silico gating, and identify both cell-type-specific and housekeeping genes. They also demonstrated how it can be used for multi-omics analyses by combining single-cell ATAC-seq data with transcriptome data.