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This Week in PLOS: Aug 10, 2015

A University of California, San Francisco-led team introduces transcriptome sequences for the rat kangaroo, an Australian marsupial whose epithelial cells are sometimes used for cell biology studies. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers generated hundreds of millions of RNA sequencing reads, which were used to put together a rat kangaroo transcriptome that contained nearly 350,000 transcripts and represented roughly 20,079 distinct genes. "We expect that this high-quality transcriptome will make rat kangaroo cells a more tractable system for linking molecular-scale function and cellular-scale dynamics," the study's authors say.

A PLOS Pathogens paper describes extensive reassortment in the genome of an insect-borne cattle pathogen called bluetongue virus (BTV). Researchers from the UK and France compared new and existing genome sequences for more than 150 BTV isolates, live vaccine strains, or reference strains stretching back to the late 1950s. Their results suggest reassortment is common, but not necessarily random, in BTV, with sequencing swaps contributing to the genetically diverse strains that have re-emerged in Europe since 1998.

Finally, a team from the Netherlands and Singapore introduces a new fish-infecting virus in another PLOS Pathogens paper. The researchers discovered the new Iridoviridae family virus — which appears to be behind a mysterious scale-dropping illness in farmed ocean cultures of Asian seabass in Southeast Asia — with the help of a high-throughput system that couples Roche 454 sequencing with a library prep method known as "virus discovery cDNA-AFLP," or VIDISCA. Its genome sequence placed the so-called Scale Drop Disease Virus in the Megalocytivirus genus, while follow-up experiments confirmed that it could cause disease symptoms in vitro and in vivo in Asian seabass.