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This Week in Nature: Jun 8, 2017

In this week's Nature Genetics, a team of European researchers presents a high-quality de novo assembly of the apple genome. The researchers identified a new hyper-repetitive retrotransposon sequence that was overrepresented in heterochromatic regions and estimate that a major burst of different transposable elements occurred 21 million years ago. This burst, they note, occurred at the same time as the uplift of the Tian Shan mountains where the apple is believed to have originated, suggesting that transposable elements and related processes may have contributed to the diversification of the fruit's ancestor and its divergence from the pear.

Also in Nature Genetics, a group led by investigators from Nanjing Agricultural University presents a thorough genomic assessment of modern improved upland cotton — the most economically important natural fiber crop in the world. The researchers resequenced and conducted a population genomic analysis of 318 landraces and modern improved cultivars or lines, and identified genes associated with lint yield, the number of bolls per plant, and seed index. The findings provide a "genomic basis for improving cotton cultivars and for further evolutionary analysis of polyploid crops," the authors write.