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Using Bees to Gain Insights into Urban Microbiomes

Debris picked up by urban honeybees as they forage can provide a snapshot of the metagenomes of the cities in which they live, according to a study appearing this week in Environmental Microbiome. It is increasingly evident that the microbiome is linked to different aspects of human health, but metagenomic analyses within urban environments is limited by labor-intensive sample collection. A team led by New York University researchers instead tested whether bees could aid in gathering samples of urban microbiota, examining various hive materials — honey, debris, hive swabs, and bee bodies — for clues about the metagenomic landscape around the hives. Through experiments in New York, Sydney, Melbourne, Venice, and Tokyo, they show that hive debris can reveal information about the range of microbial species surrounding beehives, including microbes associated with plants, mammals, and aquatic environments. In addition to providing insights into hive health, the data could also be used for human pathogen surveillance, the study's authors say.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.