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Science Papers Present Analysis of Chinese Mountain Cat, American Lobster Genome

By analyzing genomic data for the Chinese mountain cat, a team led by Peking University researchers confirm that the animal is a subspecies of wildcat and not involved in cat domestication in China. As detailed in Science Advances, the Chinese mountain cat has a controversial taxonomic status, with disagreement over whether it is a true species or a wildcat subspecies, and whether it contributed to cat domestication in its native country. To investigate, the scientists collected samples of the Chinese mountain cat over its entire range in the Tibetan region, as well as the the Asiatic wildcat from Xinjiang and domestic cats across China, and sequenced 51 nuclear genomes, 55 mitogenomes, and multilocus regions from 270 modern or museum specimens. Their analyses classified the Chinese mountain cat as a wildcat and revealed ancient admixture events between it and the Asiatic wildcat, but not evidence of any role in feline domestication.

A high-quality draft assembly of the American lobster genome is published in Science Advances this week, revealing new details about adaptations contributing to the animal's longevity and ecological success. The American lobster is both ecologically and commercially important, while its accessible nervous system has made it a valuable research model. To provide an additional resource for study, a group led by Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute investigators used a combination of short- and long-read sequencing and scaffolding based on Chicago and Hi-C libraries to assemble a high-quality genome of the crustacean. Their analysis of the neural gene complement reveals extraordinary development of the chemosensory machinery, while the discovery of a novel class of chimeric receptors coupling pattern recognition and neurotransmitter binding suggests a deep integration between the neural and immune systems. The team also uncovers a repertoire of genes involved in innate immunity, genome stability, cell survival, chemical defense, and cuticle formation, representing a diversity of defense mechanisms that allow the lobster to thrive in the benthic marine environment.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.