In PLOS One, researchers from the US and Portugal describe nasal microbial community features found in children and adults with asthma over time. The team used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to characterize microbial community members in two nasopharyngeal samples collected about half a year apart from 40 individuals with asthma between six years and 18 years old, identifying some 167 operational taxa units per sample, on average. Although the overall diversity of microbes in the nasopharyngeal microbiome did not shift significantly from one season to the next, for example, the investigators saw hints that the proportion of bacteria from a few genera did differ by season and in children from different age groups.
A Swiss team takes a look at genetic features in Cannabis plant varieties, focusing on more than a dozen microsatellite loci that may help in distinguishing between hemp- and marijuana-producing forms of the plant. As they report in PLOS One, the investigators assessed samples from two dozen hemp fiber Cannabis varieties and 15 drug plant varieties. In addition to detecting genetic structure in these plant varieties, they narrowed in on a genetic signature that appeared to coincide with plants from police seizures and other drug-producing plants.
For a paper appearing in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, investigators from the US and China introduce a sequencing-based scheme for detecting and tracking schistosomiasis infections caused by the parasitic worm Schistosoma japonicum Miracidia. By combining whole-genome amplification with double digest restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (ddRAD-seq), the team looked at whether it was able to retrace the source of S. japonicum infection in six-year-old samples from China on nucleic acid collection cards. "We demonstrate the utility of this approach in capturing a large amount of genetic variation information and show how this information might be used to reveal population structure at fine spatial resolution in this population," the authors write. "Our long-term goal is to use the method described here to evaluate pathways of schistosomiasis infection in pockets of residual transmission."