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This Week in Nature: May 12, 2016

In this week's Nature, a multi-institute team of researchers presents the results of a genome-wide association study of almost 300,000 identifying genetic variations associated with the level of formal education completed by an individual. The work, which expanded on an earlier study of about 100,000 people by the same investigators, focused on individuals of European descent whose educational attainment was assessed at or above age 30. The researchers found 74 genetic variants associated with education level, as well as candidate genes at these genomic regions that are preferentially expressed in neural tissue and are enriched in pathways linked to neural development. The study's authors stressed the role of environment on educational attainment, but suggested further investigation be conducted on the genetic aspect.

In Nature Genetics this week, a University of Wisconsin, Madison-led team reported the full genome sequence of the carrot, providing insights into the vegetable's evolution, color, and nutritional value. The scientists identified 32,113 genes in the high-quality reference genome, about 10,500 of which are unique to carrots. They also sequenced 35 different wild and domestic carrot specimens and subspecies, and compared the carrot genome to those of other plants to determine when carrots diverged from grape, kiwi, and tomato. The scientists also uncovered a gene responsible for carrots' especially high levels of beta-carotene.

Finally, in Nature Methods, University of California, San Francisco investigators detailed a new approach for de novo human genome sequence assembly and phasing. Their hybrid method involves integrating data from Illumina short-read sequencing, 10X Genomics linked-read sequencing, and BioNano Genomics genome mapping.