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This Week in Genome Biology: Sep 9, 2015

A UK-led team introduces a transcript-based strategy it came up with for classifying the age of various healthy human tissues, starting with array-based gene expression profiling on samples from 15 young and 15 elderly sedentary individuals. The researchers uncovered an RNA classifier that accurately classified almost 600 healthy muscle, skin, and brain tissues from 108 individuals enrolled in a Swedish birth cohort, they report. Through follow-up experiments on hundreds more case-control samples, they found that the classifier could also distinguish between healthy, aging brain samples and samples from individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.

Researchers from Austria, Germany, and elsewhere present the single real-time transcript sequencing approach that they used to establish and/or improve gene set descriptions in spinach and sugar beet plants. After putting together an automated process for sequencing complementary DNA with Pacific Biosciences SMRT sequencing, the team improved on the sugar beet gene set and demonstrated the ability to do de novo gene annotation on the spinach plant Spinacia oleracea. "The workflows described will be of importance to explore the genomes of lesser known eukaryotes," the study's authors say, "and the new gene sets for sugar beet and spinach are valuable resources for plant research and comparative genomics."

Finally, a group from France and Belgium report on single gene duplication patterns present on chromosome 3B of the bread wheat genome. Using a recently established reference sequence for the 774 million base chromosome, together with comparisons to related plants such as Brachypodium distachyon, Oryza sativa, and Sorghum bicolor, the researchers saw signs of a relatively recent burst of small-scale gene duplications during the evolution of bread wheat's chromosome 3B evolution. "The structural and functional redundancy provided by the high duplication activity in the wheat genome has likely provided a selective advantage to wheat for adapting to a large range of environments, making it one of the most successful crops," they write.