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This Week in Nature: Jun 6, 2019

In this week's Nature, two independent research groups publish analyses of ancient genomes from Siberian and North American individuals, uncovering new details about their peoples' migration patterns and population histories. In the first paper, a team led by University of Copenhagen researchers analyze 37 ancient genomes newly recovered from Northeastern Siberia. They find evidence of three major migration events: an initial peopling by a previously unknown Paleolithic population distantly related to early West Eurasian hunter-gatherers; the arrival of East Asian-related peoples, which gave rise to so-called Ancient Paleo-Siberians who are closely related to contemporary communities from far-northeastern Siberia and Native Americans; and a Holocene migration of other East Asian-related peoples from whom many contemporary Siberians are descended. In the second report, an international team studied the genomes of 48 ancient people from Chukotka, East Siberia, the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, and the Canadian Arctic, and compare the findings to data from present-day Alaskan Iñupiat and West Siberian populations. Their data point to a shaping of North American populations by gene-flow between Paleo-Eskimos and the First Americans. GenomeWeb has more on these studies, here.

Also in Nature, a Yale University team presents a study into how the human microbiome influences the effects of oral drugs. They measure the ability of 76 diverse human gut bacteria to metabolize 271 oral drugs, finding that many of the medicines are chemically modified by microbes. Using high-throughput genetics and mass spectrometry, they uncover a number of drug-metabolizing microbial gene products that can "directly and significantly impact intestinal and systemic drug metabolism in mice and can explain drug-metabolizing activities of human gut bacteria and communities based on their genomic contents." The findings could help in the development of strategies to manipulate patients' microbiota to beneficially alter metabolic microbiome-host interactions, the authors say.