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PLOS Papers on Microbiome Tool, Ascaris Lipidome, Parasitoid Wasp Virus

In PLOS One, Japanese researchers report on an online, integrative software set for analyzing microbiome data alongside specific phenotypic features. The "microbiota and phenotype correlation analysis platform" (MANTA) includes an integrative database and platform for analyzing microbiome-phenotype relationships, the team says. In their proof-of-principle application of MANTA, the authors used the platform to explore potential ties between gut microbiome features by 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing on fecal samples, body composition, blood test results, and self-reported lifestyle features such as activity levels and dietary patterns in 20 seemingly healthy male volunteers between the ages of 21 and 41 years old from Japan. "Our case study suggested that MANTA is not only adept at storing microbiome data but is also capable of clearly demonstrating the correlations between the microbiome and lifestyle parameters," they write.

A team led by investigators at the University of Melbourne takes a look at the lipidome of ascariasis-causing soil nematode worms for a paper in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry, the researchers assessed 587 lipids Ascaris suum worms originating from pig hosts, quantifying lipid levels and dynamics across developmental stages in the nasty nematode. "The results showed substantial differences in the composition and abundance of lipids with key roles in cellular processes and functions … among distinct stages and among organ systems," they report, "likely reflecting differing demands for lipids, depending on stage of growth and development as well as the need to adapt to constantly changing environments within and outside of the host animal."

For a PLOS Pathogens study, University of Georgia researchers describe a symbiotic virus found in the Diachasmimorpha longicaudata wasp genome with an endogenous viral element analysis of parasitoid wasp genomes. The mutualistic poxvirus, known as Diachasmimorpha longicaudata entomopoxvirus (DIEPV), "does not conform to the genomic architecture shared by parasitoid [endogenous viral elements] with which it displays evolutionary convergence," the team found. The authors further note that results from their genome sequencing analysis of DIEPV viruses from the D. longicaudata wasp venom gland, along with comparative genomic and other analyses, suggest that the symbiotic poxvirus "retains the exogenous viral genome of its poxvirus ancestor and the majority of conserved poxvirus core genes."