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This Week in PLOS: Jun 19, 2017

In PLOS Genetics, an international team led by investigators in Sweden and Canada explore potential gene-environment interactions amongst variants implicated in blood lipid profiles and/or body mass index. By analyzing between-genotype variance heterogeneity for SNPs across the genome, the researchers attempted to tease out gene-environment interactions influencing BMI, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, and/or blood triglyceride levels in as many as 44,211 individuals. In the case of BMI, for example, their results suggested that gene-by-environment interactions may be enriched for variants with marginal ties to the trait.

For a study appearing in PLOS Pathogens, a University of Michigan-led team describes findings from a transposon mutagenesis study of Proteus mirabilis, a bacterial species implicated in many catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The genome-wide analysis uncovered more than 400 genes that seemed to be essential in P. mirabilis, along with hundreds genes predicted to play fitness-related roles. Roughly one-third of those fitness-related genes seemed to contribute when P. mirabilis was present in combination with the related species P. stuartii, the researchers report, while almost 1,400 colonization-related factors were identified in that co-infection analysis.

Finally, a PLOS One paper from researchers in Brazil provides a look at norovirus diversity over three decades in that country's Amazon region, using RT-PCR amplification and sequencing to attempt norovirus genotyping in more than 2,500 fecal samples collected from children between 1982 and 2011. The team detected norovirus in 426 samples and successfully genotyped 208 of those, identifying dozens of different genotypes. The study's authors note that the molecular epidemiology, genetic diversity, and evolutionary patterns, recombinant viruses, and more detected in the study "may contribute to other studies that aim to develop a potential [norovirus] vaccine or antiviral drug."