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This Week in Nature: Jul 9, 2015

In Nature this week, a team of UK researchers reports on the identification of new factors that regulate the production of human eggs during meiosis. To overcome technical challenges that have limited previous attempts to screen for mammalian meiotic genes, the investigators developed a new RNAi-based method that allows the assessment of the effects of blocking protein expression in nearly 800 preselected genes mediating the cell division process. With the approach, they found a number of genes with essential roles in meiosis, including ones that regulate chromosome segregation.

And in Nature Methods, a group from the University of Zurich presents details of a technique for single-molecule spectroscopy of protein conformational dynamics in live eukaryotic cells. By addressing key limitations to the in vivo application of single-molecule spectroscopy, the researchers were able to use in the live cells "a surprisingly broad spectrum" of confocal single-molecule FRET and nanosecond fluorescence correlation spectroscopy methods that previously had been limited to in vitro experimentation.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.