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This Week in PLOS: Aug 31, 2015

In PLOS Genetics, researchers involved in the Family Investigation of Nephrology and Diabetes, or FIND, study outline results from a genome-wide association study and meta-analysis aimed at uncovering variants associated with diabetes-related kidney disease. By comparing genotype patterns in thousands of individuals with diabetic kidney controls to those in healthy controls and diabetic individuals without kidney disease, the team narrowed in on a chromosome 6 SNP that appeared to be over-represented in individuals of American Indian ancestry who developed diabetic kidney disease. Meanwhile, the study's authors picked up a second variant in linkage disequilibrium with that SNP that seemed to coincide with diabetic kidney disease risk across the populations tested.

A Japanese and Vietnamese team reporting in PLOS One describes results from a phylogenetic and genome sequencing study of hepatitis E viruses circulating in Cambodia. The researchers detected antibodies against hepatitis E virus in more than 18 percent of the blood samples tested, obtained from 868 individuals in four parts of the Cambodian province of Siem Reap between 2010 and 2014. Two of the individuals had hepatitis E virus RNA in their blood and one these isolates represented a genotype that had not been found in Cambodia in the past. Through whole-genome sequencing on the latter isolate, from genotype 4, the study's authors found that it resembled hepatitis E viruses found in swine in China.

Finally, researchers from Spain sequenced the genome of a bacterial pathogen that infects mango trees and compared it to sequences from strains that infect other plants for another PLOS One paper. Based on its complete 5.8 million base genome and the sequence from a plasmid it carries, the team narrowed in on genetic factors that appear to contribute to pathogenicity and host specialization in the newly sequenced bug — a Pseudomonas syringae pathovar syringae strain known as UMAF0158, which causes apical necrosis in mango trees. Our sister publication GenomeWeb has more on the study, here.