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This Week in Nature: Feb 23, 2017

In Nature Communications this week, a Pennsylvania State University-led team reports a genomic analysis of prehistoric humans from New Mexico, revealing how power within their ancient society was passed down through the maternal line. The investigators collected and studies DNA samples from nine Chacoans — members of a complex society in the southwestern US — who were buried sequentially over a period of about 300 years in what is believed to be a crypt reserved for high-status individuals. They found that the individuals had identical mitochondrial genomes, suggesting they all belonged to the same maternal lineage and that Chacoan leadership was passed down the female line until the society collapsed around 1130 CE.

And in Nature Methods, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz, describe a new method for mapping DNA methylation using high-throughput nanopore sequencing. The approach involves recognizing DNA modifications as changes in the ionic current signal of Oxford Nanopore Technologies' MinIon nanopore sequencer, and was used to map three cytosine variants and two adenine variants in Escherichia coli.

Also in Nature Methods, a team from the University of Toronto and Johns Hopkins University report on the use of MinIon nanopore sequencing to detect DNA cytosine methylation. By using synthetically methylated DNA, they were able to train a stochastic model to distinguish 5-methylcytosine from unmethylated cytosine in human DNA.

GenomeWeb has more on these studies here.