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This Week in PLOS: Oct 5, 2015

In PLOS Genetics, members of a large, international team present evidence suggesting the effects of variants identified in genome-wide association studies of body size and shape may differ depending on individuals' age and sex. Through a meta-analysis of more than 100 studies involving more than 320,000 individuals, the researchers narrowed in on 15 body mass index-associated loci with age-specific effects. Another 44 loci showed sex-specific ties to waist-to-hip ratio, which is used to gauge body shape. "Our observations may provide new insights into the biology that underlies weight change with age or the sexual dimorphism of body shape," the study's authors write.

A PLOS Pathogens paper by Bucknell University and University of Wisconsin at Madison researchers describes transcriptomic shifts in skin samples from hibernating little brown myotis bats with or without infection by Pseudogymnoascus dustructans, a fungus behind the life-threatening white-nose syndrome. The team did RNA sequencing on wing skin tissue from half a dozen bats from Kentucky that showed white-nose syndrome symptoms and five P. dustructans-free bats from other states, uncovering acute inflammatory responses in the infected animals as well as fungal expression patterns that may contribute to virulence. Though their results point to inflammatory cytokine immune signaling in white-nose syndrome-affected bats, the study's authors note that other immune responses such as T cell recruitment were missing.

Using 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing, a Korean team characterized microbial community members in pig manure slurry collected from South Korean commercial pig farms in winter and spring. As they report in PLOS One, the researchers did RNA sequencing on samples from eight pig farms housing between 2,000 and 6,000 animals in January 2013 and again in June. While they did not see a seasonal shift in bacterial community taxonomy in the slurry, the investigators did see differences in bacterial diversity in the pig manure slurry, including changes associated with the pH of the samples.