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This Week in Nature: Nov 15, 2018

In this week's Nature, a multi-institute research group presents an improved reference genome of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a major vector of human viral diseases such as dengue and yellow fever. The scientists used a combination of technologies — including long-read Pacific Biosciences sequencing and Hi-C — to produce a fully re-annotated A. aegypti genome assembly, and then demonstrated its use in mosquito science. For example, using high-resolution quantitative trait locus and population genomic analyses, the investigators mapped new candidates for dengue vector competence and insecticide resistance. "The high-quality genome assembly and annotation described here will enable major advances in mosquito biology," the authors write.

The Daily Scan's sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News, has more on this study here.


In Nature Ecology & Evolution, an international research team reports the sequenced genomes of four species of truffles — the subterranean fruiting bodies of certain fungi — offering new insights into these highly prized food delicacies. The scientists sequenced the Piedmont white truffle, Burgundy truffle, pig truffle, and desert truffle, and compared the results to the genomes of the Périgord black truffle and non-truffle-forming fungi. They uncover a number of genetic similarities between the truffle species despite their having diverged hundreds of millions of years ago, including "a strikingly high" abundance of transposons, low protein-coding gene repertoires, and highly expressed genes involved in the synthesis of the volatile organic compounds that give truffles their pungent aroma. The authors expect their findings will "help to address fundamental questions in the evolution of the truffle lifestyle and the ecology of fungi."


And in Nature Biomedical Engineering this week, a team of researchers from Rice University presents a method of spatially controlling CRISPR-Cas9-based genome editing using nanomagnets. The investigators show that by complexing magnetic nanoparticles with recombinant baculoviral vectors, CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome editing can be activated locally in vivo via a magnetic field. They also show that a locally applied magnetic field can enhance the cellular entry of the vectors, thereby avoiding baculoviral vector inactivation and triggering a transient transgene expression in the target tissue. Further, because baculoviral vectors are inactivated elsewhere, gene delivery and in vivo genome editing is tissue specific.