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New Hornet Genomes Highlight Potential Adaptations

An international research team reporting in Scientific Reports presents findings from a genome sequencing study of two hornet species, the European hornet, Vespa crabro, and the yellow-legged Asian hornet, V. velutina, which were analyzed alongside available sequences for the northern giant hornet, V. mandarinia. The researchers put together a draft genome assembly for V. crabro with Illumina short-read sequences, while using Pacific Biosciences long-read sequencing, Hi-C chromatin interaction profiles to assemble the V. velutina hornet genome, bringing in RNA sequence data spanning several developmental stages, hornet castes, and tissue types to annotate the genomes and to find differentially expressed brain genes between hornet castes. When they compared the genomes to one another and to a publicly available genome assembly for V. mandarinia, the authors saw the most widespread signs of selection on genes in the V. crabro hornet, though signs of reproduction-related selection were common across the species. Given these and other findings, "[t]his report provides a springboard for advancing our understanding of the evolution and ecology of hornets," they write, "and opens up opportunities for using molecular methods in the future management of both native and invasive populations of these overlooked insects."

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.