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This Week in PLOS: Feb 6, 2017

In PLOS One, a University of Washington-led team considers relationships between the gut microbial communities in Kenyan children and those in their surrounding environment. Using 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, the researchers assessed microbes in fecal samples from almost 200 children in more than 150 households in western Kenya. They also profiled microbes in hundreds of household surface swabs, 158 cattle fecal samples, and 158 chicken swabs. The results pointed to overlap between the gut, household, and livestock microbiomes, along with enhanced gut microbe diversity in children who were reportedly more involved in caring for their family's livestock.

Researchers from the UK, US, Malawi, and Cameroon search for signs of selective sweeps contributing to pyrethroid insecticide resistance in malaria-carrying Anopheles funestus mosquitoes in Africa. As they report in PLOS Genetics, the investigators used microsatellite profiling, targeted sequencing, and whole-genome sequencing to assess historical representatives from half a dozen mosquito populations in West, Central, East, and southern Africa. From these data, the team saw signs of a major selective sweep at the cytochrome P450 locus that arose at some point since 2002 as pyrethroid-based interventions became more widespread, and is now found near fixation in the An. funestus mosquitoes from southern Africa. GenomeWeb has more on this study here.

Finally, a team from the University of Texas Medical Branch takes a look at transcriptional patterns present in an animal model of visceral leishmaniasis infection involving the protozoan Leishmania donovani for a PLOS Pathogens paper. The researchers did RNA sequencing and de novo transcriptome assembly on spleen and macrophage white blood cell samples from L. donovani-infected Syrian hamsters, uncovering a boost in inflammatory and interferon gene expression that did not effectively curb growth by the leishmaniasis-causing parasite.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.