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This Week in Nature: Apr 6, 2017

In this week's Nature, a team of US and Australian researchers presents an analysis of the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) genome and secreted proteins, pointing to potential new ways to control the coral reef predator. The scientists sequenced the genomes of COTS from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and Okinawa, Japan, and examined the proteins released by aggregating COTS. Among their findings were that species-specific secreted factors associated with aggregating starfish, which the authors suggest might be used to develop biocontrol agents to prevent COTS outbreaks. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.

Nature Ecology & Evolution, a group of Chinese and Norwegian investigators publishes a high-quality, chromosome-anchored reference genome for the scallop Patinopecten yessoensis, a bivalve mollusk with a slow-evolving genome bearing many ancestral features. The study offers insights into the evolution of genome organization and developmental control during the emergence of bilaterians an estimated 555 million years ago.

And in Nature Genetics, a Chinese and US research team reports an examination of the weedy rice genome, an invasive relative of cultivated rice that can significantly impact rice crop yields. The researchers used whole-genome sequences of two US strains of the plant to examine their origin and adaptation, finding that de-domestication from cultivated ancestors has had a major role in their evolution, with relatively few genetic changes required for the emergence of weediness traits. The researchers also identified genomic regions that show evidence of selection and could be used be future genetic and functional analyses for rice improvement.