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This Week in Nature: Aug 13, 2015

In Nature this week, a team led by scientists at the University of Chicago report the genome sequence of the octopus, providing insights into the evolution of the complex nervous system of this and other soft-bodied cephalopods. In sequencing the genome and multiple transcriptomes of the California two-spot octopus, the researchers found that the octopus's developmental and neuronal genetics are similar to other invertebrates aside from major extensions in two gene families previously believed to be enlarged only in vertebrates. They also identified hundreds of cephalopod-specific genes that confer specialized features such as the octopus's unique skin and suckers. GenomeWeb has more on this here.

Also in Nature, a multi-institute group of investigators publish the results of a comprehensive evolutionary study of the flora and fauna of a tropical mountain in Borneo, which harbors a great number of species not found anywhere else in the world. They genetically analyzed the entire biota of Mount Kinabalu, including 33 endemic species of plants, animals, and fungi, and found that most of area's unique species are younger than the mountain itself, which is about six million years old and that they comprise a mix of immigrant pre-adapted lineages and descendants from local lowland ancestors. The study's authors suggest their findings could help forecast the likelihood of extinctions and evolutionary rescue in biodiversity hotspots. GenomeWeb also covers this here.

And in Nature Methods, investigators from the Washington University School of Medicine described SpeedSeq, an open-source tool for fast personal genome analysis and interpretation. According to the team, the platform accomplishes alignment, variation detection, and functional annotation of a 50x human genome in 13 hours on a low-cost server.