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This Week in Nature: Sep 21, 2017

In this week's Nature, researchers from Decode Genetics, part of Amgen, report data linking parental age, particularly paternal age, with new genetic mutations in offspring. The team performed whole-genome sequencing on more than 14,000 Icelanders — including roughly 1,500 people and their parents, as well as at least one child of 225 of these individuals — and uncovered 108,778 high-quality de novo mutations. The scientists found that the number of these mutations increases by 0.37 for every year of age of the mother and 1.51 for every year of age of the father. Additionally, the number of clustered mutations was shown to increase faster with the mother's age than the father's, while the genomic span of maternal de novo mutation clusters was found to be greater than that of paternal ones. GenomeWeb as more on this, here.

And in Nature Biotechnology, an international team of scientists presents the genome of pearl millet, a staple food grain and source of straw in arid parts of sub-Saharan Africa, India, and South Asia. The researchers found substantial enrichment for wax biosynthesis genes, which may contribute to heat and drought tolerance in this crop. They also resequenced and analyzed 994 pearl millet lines to gain insights into population structure, genetic diversity, and domestication. The work provides a resource for improving agronomic traits in this and other dry-region crops, the authors say.