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Science Paper on How Poaching Drove Evolution in African Elephants

Ivory poaching has driven the rapid evolution of tuskless African elephants, according to a new study from a Princeton University-led group appearing in Science this week. The selective killing of species that with anatomical features such as tusks and horns is the basis of a multibillion-dollar illicit wildlife trade, and intensive poaching in Africa has been associated with an increase in the frequency of tuskless elephants, nearly exclusively among females. Survey data analyzed in the study revealed tusk-inheritance patterns consistent with an X chromosome-linked dominant, male-lethal trait. Meanwhile, whole-genome scans implicated two candidate genes with known roles in mammalian tooth development. Notably, one of the genes is associated with an X-linked dominant, male-lethal syndrome in humans that diminishes the growth of maxillary lateral incisors, which are homologous to elephant tusks. The findings, the study's authors write, provide evidence for "rapid, poaching-mediated selection for the loss of a prominent anatomical trait in a keystone species."

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.