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This Week in Nature: Dec 4, 2014

In Nature this week, researchers from the African Genome Variation Project report the results of its efforts to build a resource for the design, implementation, and interpretation of genomic studies in sub-Saharan Africa with the potential to be extended to other regions. The collaborators assessed the genetic diversity that exists among 1,481 sub-Saharan Africans and sequenced the full genomes of 320 individuals from 18 different ethnic and linguistic groups. From this they were able to identify various genetic regions under positive selection in Africa, including ones ties to malaria and hypertension susceptibility. They also uncovered evidence of a regionally distinct pattern of interbreeding between Eurasian people and African hunter-gatherers. GenomeWeb's Julia Karow has more on this here.

And in Nature Communications, a team of Chinese researchers has published the genome of the mudskipper, an amphibious fish that uses its pectoral fins to move on land and is capable of breathing out of water. The scientists sequenced the genomes of four different species of mudskipper, revealing that the fish diverged from other ray-finned fish around 140 million years ago and then began acquiring genes that helped them adapt to life on land. Such genes may also have helped more ancient vertebrates transition from water to land 360 million years ago. GenomeWeb also covers the mudskipper genome study here.

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.