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This Week in PLOS: Oct 16, 2017

In PLOS One, researchers from China report on findings from a transcriptome sequencing study of the cold-tolerant perennial herb vegetable plant Rumex patientia. The team put transcriptome assemblies for R. patientia plants grown under normal and cold conditions, uncovering nearly 1,200 differentially expressed genes in the collection of assembled unigenes present at the growth temperatures considered. "A large number of potential [cold-responsive] genes were identified, suggesting that this species is suitable for cultivation in northern China," the authors note. "Our findings of up-regulated [differentially-expressed genes] suggested that cold stimuli greatly affect protein translation and cellular metabolism in this species."

A team based in China and Canada delve into transcriptome responses to stress related to heat or cold in the insect-infecting fungus Isaria cateniannulata. As they explain in PLOS One, the researchers sequenced and assembled de novo transcriptome assemblies for hot- and cold-stressed I. cateniannulata. In that organism, they identified more than 17,500 unigenes — a set that included almost 4,500 genes that were differentially expressed in the heat and more than 1,900 genes with cold stress-related differential expression. The authors say their findings "enhance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of I. cateniannulata in response to temperature stresses and provide a valuable resource for the future investigations."

Influenza A viruses from individuals suffering from severe flu may have a lower-than-usual proportion of defective viral genomes, according to a PLOS Pathogens study by investigators from the Spanish National Research Council and elsewhere. After identifying a suspicious polymerase gene mutation that dialed down defective viral genome production in a fatal flu case, the team used deep sequencing to profile influenza A samples from previously healthy individuals who were admitted to intensive care or died after influenza A infection relative to mild flu cases. The defective viral genomes "are incomplete viral genome segments that activate the innate immune response," the authors explain, arguing that the new findings "will contribute to the prediction of influenza disease severity, to improved guidance of patient treatment, and will enable the development of risk-based prevention strategies and policies."