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This Week in PLOS: Apr 10, 2017

In PLOS Genetics, Stanford University researchers describe de novo mutations associated with enhanced risk of preterm birth, based on findings from a genome sequencing study involving 816 trios. With high-coverage genome sequence data for 216 preterm infants, 524 infants born at term, and their parents, the team narrowed in on almost 36,000 suspicious de novo single-base changes and 648 small insertions or deletions. By bringing in dosage, mutation tolerance, and other clues from past analyses, the authors narrowed in on 51 candidate genes for preterm birth, including de novo mutated genes implicated in fetal brain development.

A German team uses whole-genome sequencing to characterize Brucella melitensis isolates found in patients in Germany who'd lived in or traveled to the Middle East for a paper in PLOS One. The researchers sequenced 57 B. melitensis isolates from patients over more than two years, comparing the molecular and phylogenetic patterns they obtained from the genomes alongside previously sequenced B. melitensis isolates and data from multi-locus variable number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) typing. Their analysis highlighted five main genotypes as well as multiple subclades in groups with shared MLVA profiles.

For another PLOS One study, investigators from New York University and the IBM Almaden Research Center's Accelerated Discovery Lab tally the microbes found on paper bills circulating in New York. The team used shotgun metagenomic sequencing to get a glimpse at the money microbes, swabbing and sequencing samples from 20 one dollar bills in February 2013 and as many one dollar bills from June of that year. It also attempted to culture swabs from the fronts and backs of bills. Along with sequences from humans and other eukaryotes, for example, the sequence data suggested that one dollar bills may be home to microbes previously identified in human skin and mouth microbiomes as well as bugs with ties to processes such as dairy production.