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Nucleotide Base Detected on Near-Earth Asteroid

In Nature Communications, investigators at Hokkaido University, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, and other centers in Japan and the US describe the detection of the RNA nucleotide base uracil in samples from the carbonaceous asteroid Ryugu, sampled via two touchdown efforts by the spacecraft Hayabusa2. Following from past studies suggesting the near-Earth asteroid contained amino acids and other organic molecules, the team relied on a combination of high-performance liquid chromatography and electrospray ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry to assess aqueous samples obtained with a 20-hour hot water extraction on Ryugu samples collected at two sites where the spacecraft touched down, comparing the samples to hot water-extracted samples from a meteorite called Orgueil. In the process, the authors identified uracil in the Ryugu samples, together with imidazoles, nicotinic acid, and related molecules. "The present study strongly suggests that such molecules of prebiotic interest commonly formed in carbonaceous asteroids including Ryugu and were delivered to the early Earth," the authors suggest.

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.