In this week's Nature, an international research team reports the sequenced genome of a human infant who lived in Alaska roughly 11,500 years ago, providing genetic evidence that all Native American populations arose from the same source population during a single migration event in the Late Pleistocene. By comparing the infant's genome to other ancient and modern ones, the scientists found that the infant is closely related to present-day Native Americans. They also propose that the child was part of a distinct population that — along with ancestors of other Native Americans — descended from a single founding population that initially split from East Asians around 36,000 years ago, with gene flow persisting until about 25,000 years ago. GenomeWeb has more on this study, here.
Also in Nature, a group led by researchers at Emory University publishes the genome sequence of a sooty mangabey (Cercocebus atys), which may offer clues to the reasons why these animals do not develop AIDS after being infected with simian immunodeficiency virus. By comparing the C. atys genome to those of AIDS-susceptible primates, the researchers identified several immune-related genes that vary significantly between sooty mangabeys and macaques or humans. "These data provide a resource for comparative genomic studies of HIV and/or SIV pathogenesis and may help to elucidate the mechanisms by which SIV-infected sooty mangabeys avoid AIDS," they write. GenomeWeb also covers this, here.