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This Week in Nature: Oct 25, 2018

In this week's Nature Genetics, an international research team publishes a genomic analysis of Aspergillus section Nigri —  filamentous fungi that have applications in biomedicine, bioenergy, health, and biotechnology. The scientists sequenced 23 genomes, building a full genome compendium for the section, as well as 6 Aspergillus niger isolates, that enabled them to quantify inter- and intraspecies genomic variation. Metabolomics and genetic engineering was performed to correlate genotypes to phenotypes, while experimental and computational analyses revealed that both secondary metabolism and regulation are key factors that are significant in the delineation of Aspergillus species.

Also in Nature Genetics, a Cornell University-led group describes a new sequencing method for studying RNA species that have proven difficult to identify with existing genomic tools. Called chromatin run-on and sequencing — or ChRO-seq — the technique is capable of mapping the location of RNA polymerase for almost any input sample, including samples with degraded RNA, and is used in the study to map nascent transcription in primary human glioblastoma brain tumors. Among the team's findings is core group of transcription factors that control the expression of genes associated with clinical outcomes. "As the pharmacology for targeting diverse transcription factor families develops, the transcription factors reported here, as well as our strategies for finding them, should become more useful in nominating targeted therapies," the authors state.

Finally in Nature Genetics, a group from the University of Edinburgh reports an atlas of genetic associations in the UK Biobank — a large prospective epidemiological study of roughly 500,000 deeply phenotyped individuals from the UK. The atlas includes associations for 118 non-binary and 660 binary traits of UK Biobank participants, with results compiled in a publicly accessible database that allows querying genome-wide association results for over 9 million genetic variants, as well as downloading GWAS summary statistics for over 30 million imputed genetic variants. The atlas, the investigators say, "will help researchers to query UK Biobank results in an easy and uniform way without the need to incur high computational costs." GenomeWeb has more on this, here.